‘Hawks ranked No. 1 in AFCA poll

Sept. 24, 2014 By Andrea Sidlauskas

A stellar offensive performance combined with the Warhawks’  lockdown defense yet again to propel the football team to victory Sept. 20, as they shut out The College of New Jersey [TCNJ], 48-0.

“They are a great team,” TCNJ head coach Wayne Dickens said of the ’Hawks. “We arguably played the No. 1 team in the nation, and when you play a team as efficient as [UW-Whitewater is] and make mistakes, you get results like this.”

The ’Hawks are still the country’s top-ranked team according to d3football.com, and this week they earned the top spot in the first American Football Coaches Association poll of the season, followed by No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor [Texas], and No. 3 Mount Union [Ohio].

While the ’Hawks remain undefeated this year at 3-0, the win against TCNJ also marked their 20th-consecutive program victory, the second-longest current winning streak in all divisions of college football.

In the past three games, the ’Hawks have outscored opponents, 163-20, accumulated more than 1,500 yards, and proved their dominance in the WIAC by leading the conference in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense.

Saturday’s contest yielded similar results as the ’Hawks continued their conquest of Division-III football, recording 535 yards of total offense and seven sacks during their third-straight non-conference matchup this season.

The game began with a defensive stand at the ’Hawks’ own goal line during the opening drive, as they forced a fumble and proceeded to march down the field in an 11-play, 99-yard scoring drive.

“It was a long trip, and there’s a lot that can be looked at, but we got another big stop inside the 1-yard line and got a shutout,” Warhawk head coach Lance Leipold said. “There were some things we should be proud of.”

Senior quarterback Matt Behrendt threw for 265 yards, going 19-for-28 with two touchdown passes.

Senior wide receiver Jake Kumerow caught nine passes for 184 yards and one touchdown in the first half alone.

Junior running back Nick Patterson recording his second-straight 100 rushing yard game, averaging 9.2 yards-per-carry, with two scores.

“Their offense is the most experienced part of their team,” Dickens said of the ’Hawks. “[Kumerow] would be on my [NFL] draft board if I were still working for one of those teams on Sunday. He always finds a way to come up with the catch when the ball is around him.”

Complementing the ’Hawks’ offensive squad was a stout defense, which held the Lions to just 88 yards.

Junior linebacker Justin Dischler led the team with seven tackles, and senior defensive back Zach Nellis posted five tackles, two interceptions and forced a fumble.

Freshman defensive lineman Hunter Higginbotham led the ’Hawks in sacks with 1.5, although seven other players contributed to the seven sacks recorded.

The ’Hawks head into bye week after back-to-back away games, but will resume play Oct. 4 at Perkins Stadium for their first conference matchup against UW-La Crosse.

“We should have a lot of time to get ready for UW-La Crosse, and we can be methodical about it while giving the players a few days of rest,” Leipold said.

The Eagles are fourth in the WIAC standings, currently sitting at 1-2 overall and most recently losing to Mary Hardin-Baylor Sept. 20, 41-22.

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