Record crowd witnesses history

’Hawks beat Titans 17-14 after last-second winner


Sophomore running back Drew Patterson sheds multiple tacklers on a run in the 17-14 victory against UW-Oshkosh. Patterson carried the ball 20 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. Photo by Kimberly Wethal

Justin St. Peter, Sports Editor

When sophomore running back Drew Patterson received a toss on the Warhawks patented stretch play on third-and-13 with the game on the line, a collective groan emerged from some of the 17,535 fans in attendance.

Seconds later, the groan turned to a cheer for Warhawk fans as Patterson waited for a crease to appear. He exploded through the end zone for a 15 yard game-winning touchdown run with 55 seconds left in No. 2 UW-Whitewater Warhawks 17-14 victory over the No. 5 UW-Oshkosh Titans.

Head coach Kevin Bullis said the team called the run because it was part of the team’s identity and four-down territory.

“On the field, I’m sitting there going, ‘Oh we must have gained about seven yards or something like that,’” Bullis said. “You are not trying to get the first down. What you are trying to do is make the next play … give you a chance to not make you have to make a 15-yard play… To us it’s really, ‘Let’s go get a chunk off of it.’ We didn’t foresee that we would get that big of a chunk out of it.”

UW-O got the ball back with less than a minute left and converted a fourth down before being left with six seconds left on
the clock.

Titans quarterback Brett Kasper attempted to escape the rush. He tried to throw a Hail Mary pass, but senior defensive lineman Brandon Tamsett and sophomore linebacker Bryce Leszczynski combined to take him down on the final play of the game to seal the victory.

At the end of the play, a large majority of the Division III record crowd ignited for one final cheer to cap off the win. Division III records are hard to confirm, but the 17,535 people on hand broke the previous highest attendance record by 198 people since the St. John vs. St. Thomas clash on Sept. 24, 2015.

Perkins Stadium only holds 13,500 seats. Spectators stood around the fence in both end zones, sat on the hills on both sides of the bleachers and went as far up as the fence would allow on the visiting side, all for a glimpse at this top five showdown.

The game was the third time spectators exceeded the seating capacity at Perkins Stadium. The previous attendance record was in last year’s game vs. UW-Platteville on Oct. 6, 2015, when 15,287 people were on hand.

Patterson said it was an “awesome atmosphere,” but it almost wasn’t as awesome as most of the Whitewater fans and players thought
it was.

The Warhawks were down 7-3 in the third quarter before senior defensive back Vince Mason read a short pass to the right on a third down and broke on the ball. Mason intercepted the ball on his knees at the Titans’ 16 yard line.

“It’s really important to know the ins and outs of the call and what exactly is going on,” Mason said. “A little bit is just having that intelligence and savvy, but a lot of it was just that pressure that we brought into the box, making the quarterback feel uncomfortable. The rest
was history.”

Two plays later, sophomore quarterback, Cole Wilber, fired a beautiful pass into the outstretched arms of senior tight end Brett Campbell for an 18 yard score. ’Hawks took their first lead of the game, 10-7 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

UW-W had the ball near midfield with just under 12 minutes left in the               contest when sophomore Cole Wilber fumbled his second snap of the game and the Titans recovered.

The Titans drove 53 yards in 11 plays, mostly on the ground, and retook the lead on a one-yard touchdown run from junior running back Dylan Hecker with 7:41 left on the clock.

Fourteen plays, 72 yards and nearly seven minutes of game time later, Patterson scampered in for the game-winner.

Wilber finished the game 14-24 for 124 yards and one touchdown through the air.

Patterson carried the ball 20 times for 90 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Fellow sophomore running back Jarrod Ware had 15 carries for 75 yards.

Although the Titans outgained the ’Hawks 346-279 in the game and 268-104 in the first half, the Warhawks defense forced four crucial turnovers.

“There is the old saying, ‘bend, don’t break,’ and that was the classic example,” Mason said. “We made plays when we
had to.”

Kasper hit sophomore receiver Dom Todarello for a ten-yard touchdown to open the scoring early in the second quarter before Ware fumbled a kick return at the UW-W 27.

The defense was able to force the Titans into incompletions on 3rd and 4th down from inside the ten-yard line for a turnover on downs.

Later in the second quarter, following Wilber’s first fumble, Titans senior running back, Devon Linzenmeyer, ran for 18 yards inside the red zone before sophomore defensive back Famus Hasty forced a fumble that Mason recovered.

On the following UW-O drive, Hasty, who was the Warhawks leading tackler with nine stops, forced Hecker to fumble at the UW-W six-yard line and recovered it.

UW-W drove down the field but ran out of time to score, as the first half expired and took control in the second half.

“This game was a dogfight,” Bullis said. “Laws of average say that we were going to be down in this game. Same with Oshkosh. You just know this game is going to be a flipping brawl with who can keep their composure and not get caught up by ‘oh we’re down by seven, oh we’re down by 10.’”

Linzenmeyer led all rushers with 10 carries for 86 yards and Hecker added 18 rushes for 73 yards. The Titans’ 189 yards on the ground were cringe-worthy for Bullis.

“In our mind, we don’t like to give up more than 100 yards,” Bullis said. “That makes us ill, but you [have to] consider the talent you are playing against.
Those two guys are amaz

The Warhawks’ reward for going through the gauntlet of Morningside College, UW-Platteville and UW-Oshkosh in consecutive weeks is a road matchup against the other remaining undefeated WIAC team, UW-La Crosse on Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.