Warhawks trample records

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September 23, 2015 By Justin St. Peter

The No. 1 ranked Warhawks forced as many turnovers (3) as points allowed (3) in a 66-3 route against Finlandia (Michigan) University in their home opener on Sept. 19.

Head coach Kevin Bullis said that winning the turnover battle was a top priority heading into the game.

“Our defense and special teams really emphasized it, trying to take the ball away,” Bullis said. “We put ourselves in position to get a short field. We really capitalized on that.”

The ’Hawks got off to a quick start, scoring on the opening drive when senior running back , Jordan Ratliffe, scored on a three yard run out of the wildcat formation. Junior quarterback, Chris Nelson, lined up as a wide receiver, as Ratliffe took the direct snap and ran right up the middle for the score.

Senior running back, Nick Patterson, found the end zone twice, with a reception touchdown from senior receiver, Joe Worth ,sandwiched in between, in a high-scoring first quarter.

Head coach Kevin Bullis pulled the ’Hawks’ starters early in the first quarter after the team jumped out to a 28-0 lead.

“This game times up really well for us in the sense that we turn around and come back out next Thursday,” Bullis said. “We knew if we played the way we can, we would be able to shorten the reps for our first team players.”

Scoring 28 points in the first quarter tied a UW-Whitewater that was set in the seasoning opening win against Waldorf College last year.

The scoring did not stop there as seven different Warhawks combined for a school record eight touchdown runs.

“There were a lot people that scored today,” Bullis said. “That’s great for morale and development.”

Freshman running backs Jarrod Ware and Tyler Glass led the team in rushing with 87 and 61 yards respectively. They both scored touchdowns and had seven carries apiece.

“I’d like to think that down the road, you will be talking about them a lot,” Bullis said. “Those are two great ballplayers, and that’s nothing to say what the offensive lines did in front of them to give them an opportunity to score those touchdowns.”

All five quarterbacks on the roster played as the ’Hawks outgained the Lions 392 to 24 yards on the ground and 163 to 65 yards through the air.

“We ran the ball really well,” Worth said. “We got after them, and it was fun.”

Freshman quarterback Canton Larson actually outgained senior starter Chris Nelson through the air, completing two passes on four attempts for 67 yards.

Nelson completed three of his four passes for 63 yards and the lone touchdown through the air to Worth.

On the defensive side of the ball, the ’Hawks were led by freshman linebacker Bryce Leszczynski who recorded 10 tackles, three solo, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Senior starting linebacker Paul Foster added an interception which led directly to a score in the first quarter.

Senior starting safety Shawn Shillcox intercepted Lions’ starting quarterback, Ronald Brown, on the very next play. The offense would then capitalize on the short field once again.

Senior linebacker Matthew Hoppe added six tackles and a fumble recovery, while junior linebacker Jordan Strasburg tallied five tackles.

“You can prove yourself in practice, and then it comes down to what you can do in the game,” Strasburg said. “You have one opportunity to show them what you got.”

The Warhawks gave up the only points of the game when Patterson muffed a punt, setting the Lions offense up on the ’Hawks side of the 50 yard line with six minutes left in the second quarter.

It was the first and only time the Lions had the ball in Warhawks territory.

Following the turnover, the Lions then drove down to the ’Hawks three yard line before stalling and kicking a field goal for their first points of its inaugural season in Division-III football.

Despite giving up those three points, Worth was happy to play at home.

“It’s good to hear the cannon,” Worth said. “Last week, everyone was going, ‘Booo.’ Today, everyone was actually cheering. It was a good atmosphere.”

The ’Hawks will have a quick turnaround and play Morningside College at 6 p.m. on Sept. 24 in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Mustangs are 3-0 and are the top ranked team in in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) top ranked team.Joe Worth