Football breaks record, UW-P’s hearts

Football+breaks+record%2C+UW-P%E2%80%99s+hearts

By Andrea Sidlauskas

Oct. 7, 2015

Despite a cloudy 50-degree afternoon interspersed with chilling 16-mile-per-hour winds, a record-breaking crowd filled Perkins Stadium this past Saturday to watch the Warhawks football team defeat the UW-Platteville Pioneers, 17-7, in the 21st annual George Chryst Memorial Bowl.

The top-ranked ’Hawks battled their No. 14-ranked conference rival before 15,287 fans – the third-largest crowd in NCAA Division-III history.

“That just adds to the experience for our kids and why they work and put so many hours in for really a short game,” head football coach Kevin Bullis said. “You think of all the work and hours they put into it, a game is only about .003% [special teams coach John O’Grady] figured out. So in all reality, 99% is practice. The fans showed up today, and it was a great crowd.”   

The Pioneers are known for their passing game, but the WIAC opener proved UW-Whitewater’s defensive dominance, as the ’Hawks held their opponent to -2 yards and sacked UW-P quarterback Tom Kelly 6 times for 48 yards for a loss. Kelly completed just 24 of 40 passes.

Senior defensive lineman Zach Franz was named Defensive Most Valuable Player of the Game for his efforts, which included five tackles and six sacks.

“Our defensive backs are playing great ball,” Franz said. “[Kelly’s] first read wasn’t open so that made the quarterback hold onto the ball longer. Once the quarterback sees a defensive tackle in his face or a defensive end in his face, he doesn’t know what to do and makes a bad decision.”

The -2 yards on 26 carries were the least allowed by the ’Hawks since Nov. 26, 2011, when the team allowed -5 against Franklin College in the second round of NCAA playoffs.

“They have a good running attack, but they run so they can throw,” Bullis said. “We knew we had to take that piece away from them. Once we were able to do that, we were able to then force them into being one-dimensional, and now that really simplifies the game for our coordinators and players on defense.”

Junior linebacker Paul Foster contributed a team-high 10 tackles, and senior defensive back Ryan Winske ended with eight tackles and one interception on the day.  Junior defensive lineman Brandon Tamsett posted seven tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, and junior defensive lineman John Flood added four tackles, two of which were for a loss of yards.

On the offensive side of things, the ’Hawks controlled the ball in the first quarter with nearly ten minutes of possession, but were unable to score until the end of the second. This was the first time since Nov. 1, 2014 (last year’s meeting between the two teams) that the ’Hawks failed to put points on the board in the first quarter.

“We came out slow,” Bullis said. “That’s more on us as coaches. We were trying to do some things with controlling the clock and trying to minimize [the Pioneers], and, in the end, we felt like that kind of dampened our tempo. In that second quarter, we said, ‘No. Let’s go back to speeding it up.’ And when we did that, it was like our kids felt like they were at home again and really started to make some things happen.”

With less than six minutes left in the half, UW-P running back Kyle Whitman scored a touchdown to give the Pioneers a 7-0 advantage. But the ’Hawks answered back with an eight-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game with 1:27 remaining.

The ’Hawks scored all of their points during a three-minute span bridging the second and third quarters. After a 36-yard pass from junior quarterback Chris Nelson to sophomore wide receiver Adam Korpela, the Warhawk defense forced the Pioneers to punt, setting up a 21-yard field goal by junior kicker Lake Bachar with just four seconds left in the half.

Less than two minutes into the third quarter, senior running back Jordan Ratliffe punched it in from six yards out to score the final points of the game for either squad.

“Once we gashed them big and got them on their toes, then we started moving fast,” Nelson said. “I think they really struggled responding to our tempo.”

Nelson finished the game with 120 yards and a touchdown in nine passes. Korpela, who was named Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Game, grabbed three receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, and Ratliffe racked up 72 yards and a touchdown in a career-high 33 carries. 

With the win, the Warhawks extended their NCAA-longest win streak to 36 games and also marked their 11th-consecutive win against UW-Platteville.

Next up, the ’Hawks will travel to UW-Oshkosh Oct. 10 to continue WIAC play.

“We’re just going to try to get better every week,” Nelson said. “We’re slowly starting to get our rhythm, slowly coming along, and it’s gonna keep coming along. We just gotta keep getting our reps.”

“Our defensive backs are playing great ball,” Franz said. “[Kelly’s] first read wasn’t open so that made the quarterback hold onto the ball longer. Once the quarterback sees a defensive tackle in his face or a defensive end in his face, he doesn’t know what to do and makes a bad decision.”

The -2 yards on 26 carries were the least allowed by the ’Hawks since Nov. 26, 2011, when the team allowed -5 against Franklin College in the second round of NCAA playoffs.

“They have a good running attack, but they run so they can throw,” Bullis said. “We knew we had to take that piece away from them. Once we were able to do that, we were able to then force them into being one-dimensional, and now that really simplifies the game for our coordinators and players on defense.”

Junior linebacker Paul Foster contributed a team-high 10 tackles, and senior defensive back Ryan Winske ended with eight tackles and one interception on the day. Junior defensive lineman Brandon Tamsett posted seven tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, and junior defensive lineman John Flood added four tackles, two of which were for a loss of yards.

On the offensive side of things, the ’Hawks controlled the ball in the first quarter with nearly 10 minutes of possession, but were unable to score until the end of the second. This was the first time since Nov. 1, 2014 (last year’s meeting between the two teams) that the ’Hawks failed to put points on the board in the first quarter.

“We came out slow,” Bullis said. “That’s more on us as coaches. We were trying to do some things with controlling the clock and trying to minimize [the Pioneers], and, in the end, we felt like that kind of dampened our tempo. In that second quarter, we said, ‘No. Let’s go back to speeding it up.’ And when we did that, it was like our kids felt like they were at home again and really started to make some things happen.”

With less than six minutes left in the half, UW-P running back Kyle Whitman scored a touchdown to give the Pioneers a 7-0  advantage. But, the ’Hawks answered back with an eight-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game with 1:27 remaining.

The ’Hawks scored all of their points during a three-minute span bridging the second and third quarters. After a 36-yard pass from junior quarterback Chris Nelson to sophomore wide receiver Adam Korpela, the Warhawk defense forced the Pioneers to punt, setting up a 21-yard field goal by junior kicker Lake Bachar with just four seconds left in the half.

Less than two minutes into the third quarter, senior running back Jordan Ratliffe punched it in from six yards out to score the final points of the game for either squad.

“Once we gashed them big and got them on their toes, then we started moving fast,” Nelson said. “I think they really struggled responding to our tempo.”

Nelson finished the game with 120 yards and a touchdown in nine passes. Korpela, who was named Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Game, grabbed three receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, and Ratliffe racked up 72 yards and a touchdown in a career-high 33 carries.

With the win, the Warhawks extended its NCAA-longest win streak to 36 games and also marked their 11th-consecutive win against UW-Platteville.

Next up, the ’Hawks will travel to UW-Oshkosh Oct. 10 to continue WIAC play.

“We’re just going to try to get better every week,” Nelson said. “We’re slowly starting to get our rhythm, slowly coming along, and it’s gonna keep coming along. We just gotta keep getting our reps.”