Warhawk Football Offense Explodes in 4th

Jack Miller, Assistant Sports Editor

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The UW-Whitewater football team (1-2) scored 27 points in the fourth quarter en route to the Warhawks’ 40-21 victory against Washington-St. Louis on Sept. 16 at Francis Field.

Entering the final quarter, the Warhawks trailed 14-13. In just nine minutes, the team scored 21-unanswered points to take a commanding 34-14 lead before the Bears finally responded with a touchdown with 4:33 remaining in the game.

Although four of the five Warhawk touchdowns came in the fourth, head coach Kevin Bullis said it wasn’t just as simple as one good quarter, instead it was the result of the team’s long-term mindset.

“What we want to do is learn on those first two drives of each half,” Bullis said.

“We make our tweaks and adjustments on the sideline to allow our coordinators to call the best plays,” Bullis said.

The Warhawks compiled 307 yards through the air and 257 yards on the ground, both season-highs for the team.

Junior quarterback Cole Wilber completed 24-of-37 passes for 309 yards, three touchdowns and two picks.

UW-W’s rushing attack was ignited by junior running back Ronny Ponick, who ran for a career-high 191 yards on 24 attempts and a touchdown.

“His [Ponick’s] physicality and aggressiveness was a great spark,” Bullis said.

The UW-W defense, led by junior defensive lineman Harry Henschler, who totaled three sacks, held the Bears offense to 249 yards, with just 32 of those yards coming from the ground.

“The defense does a great job of every week getting pressure on the quarterback,” junior defensive back Famus Hasty said. “It makes my job easier as a corner.”

The Warhawks struck quickly on their opening possession with a 6-play, 57-yard drive, capped off with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Wilber. Junior wide receiver Canton Larson hauled in throw.

The Bears tied the game with 9:37 in the second quarter when sophomore quarterback Johnny Davidson connected with sophomore tight end Mitchel Groen for a 11-yard touchdown.

Warhawk freshman kicker Wojciech Gasienica comfortably hit two 30-yard plus field goals late in the second quarter to put UW-W up 13-7 entering half.

The game stalled offensively for both teams until the Bears took a 14-13 lead with a 1-yard touchdown with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter.

It only took two minutes for the Warhawks to regain the lead.

With 14:02 in the fourth quarter, Wilber connected with junior wide receiver Mitchell Dess for a 43-yard touchdown.

UW-W expanded their lead to 27-13 with a 5-play, 70-yard drive and ended with a 13-yard touchdown toss from Wilber.

After the Warhawk defense forced a three-and-out, the offense got back to work.

This time, the drive was carried by Ponick, who gained 46 yards on five rushes, including a 2-yard touchdown run.

The Bears finally stopped the bleeding with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make it a 34-21 Warhawk advantage.

UW-W finished off the productive fourth quarter with a 26-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Alex Peete with just over three minutes remaining.

The Warhawks next game will be against No.3 UW-Oshkosh. The matchup with the Titans last year ended with a 17-14 Warhawk victory at Perkins Stadium.

Although the highly anticipated match up will have major implications for the race for the WIAC title, Bullis said he is simply focused on his own team.