’Hawks back on track again

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By Andrea Sidlauskas

Oct. 21, 2015

The Warhawk’s football team has faced its share of difficulties in the recent past, but last week it proved just how resilient it is.

Just six days after the team suffered its first loss in nearly three years, the ’Hawks faced off against conference rival UW-La Crosse, defeating the Eagles 30-12, in a special Friday night game at Perkins Stadium.

“You’re always pleased anytime people can jump back from adversity,” head football coach Kevin Bullis said. “That was really the theme of what we’ve been through this past week, was not to focus on the Oshkosh game, but focus on the experiences and what we learned to try to get better.”

The ’Hawks racked up 537 yards of total offense, compared to the Eagles’ 291, and held UW-La Crosse to just 59 rushing yards. Junior quarterback Chris Nelson had a career day with 246 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-27 passes.

Junior wide receiver Marcus Hudson also tallied a career-high 108 yards on six receptions, while senior wide receiver Joe Worth grabbed seven passes for 86 yards.

“We had a lot of receivers step up for us today,” Nelson said. “Marcus Hudson has turned into a playmaker for us, and he can really go up and snag any ball I throw in the air.”

On the ground, the ’Hawks totaled 243 yards between three different backs. Senior running back Jordan Ratliffe accumulated 130 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries before falling to injury in the second quarter. Freshman running backs Tyler Glass and Jarrod Ware picked up 93 and 24 yards, respectively.

“We had a number of running backs get hurt, unfortunately, but the next guy stepped in and really did some nice things,” Bullis said. “Whether it was Tyler Glass or Jarrod Ware, we had some people filling in for some injured people that really stepped up.”

Defensively, the ’Hawks forced Eagles’ quarterback John Tackett to throw three interceptions, two of which were grabbed by junior defensive back Vince Mason.

“It’s all a collective unit; it’s not just defensive backs making interceptions,” Mason said. “There are reasons why those interceptions happen, and it boils down to the defensive line bringing pressure, linebackers bringing pressure and covering guys, and then ultimately, if we can make the play, hopefully we do that.”

Senior defensive back Shawn Shillcox caught an interception in the end zone, as well as led the ’Hawks’ defense with seven tackles. Junior defensive linemen Trevor Boyle and Tim Regan and junior linebackers Paul Foster and Kyle Schiedemeyer all got to Tackett for one sack each.

With the victory, the ’Hawks extended a different streak – their 21st-consecutive win at Perkins Stadium, good for third-longest in school history.

Despite the triumph, Nelson said the team still needs to make improvements.

“I think that we got in a rhythm there today,” Nelson said. “We were moving the ball pretty well, but we didn’t score as many points as we would like. We don’t want three points; we want to score touchdowns. That’s one thing our offense has got to work on. We gotta finish with touchdowns, and that’s how we’re going to get better.”

The ’Hawks continue WIAC play as they head to UW-Stevens Point on Oct. 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

“That [Oshkosh] loss was tough, but this was definitely a good rebound,” Mason said. “Monday night we had practice, and you could just feel the energy was back. We were ready to get back at it and look at one opponent at a time. Oshkosh is in the past, whether we beat them or lost to them. Now we got Steven’s Point, so they’re next. La Crosse is in the past.”