Football opens conference with statement win

Dominant away victory gives Warhawks first 4-0 start since 2016 campaign

Tyler Job, Sports Editor

A dominant second half propelled the No. 10 Warhawks to a 30-7 victory at No. 23 UW-La Crosse to take the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener.

Whitewater also advances to its first 4-0 start since the 2016 season, where the team went 12-1.

Down 7-3 at the half, the Warhawks’ first drive of the second half was arguably their highest quality of the year. The drive took almost seven and a half minutes and ended with senior quarterback Cole Wilber tossing a 28-yard pass to junior wide receiver Nathaniel Osterloo in the corner of the end zone.

After that, the Warhawks didn’t look back. 

The Whitewater defense earned two stops to start the fourth quarter, and Wilber instantly turned the game around with an 81-yard catch-and-run throw to sophomore wide receiver JT Parish on a slant, giving UW-W a 17-7 lead.

Junior defensive back Garrett Purdy picked off quarterback Ben Schramski on La Crosse’s very next drive. Whitewater capitalized and ended up with a 5-yard, play-action touchdown completion from Wilber to senior wide receiver Jerimie Richards.

Wilber ended the day going 14/24 for 244 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

UW-W head coach Kevin Bullis said he was impressed with Wilber’s poise throughout the game.

“He’s just relaxed,” Bullis said. “He’s a great competitor…At the beginning of the game, he was edgy and he calmed himself down which was beautiful. That’s hard to do.”

The Eagles on their next drive tried to get something going, but the Whitewater defense stopped La Crosse on eight plays to prohibit any significant progress.

Sophomore running back Alex Peete capped off the contest with a 3-yard touchdown run, earning his eighth touchdown in four games.

The Warhawk offense put up 418 yards despite 10 penalties, while the defense allowed just 158 yards.

Whitewater’s defense has not allowed more than seven points all season.

Despite the several penalties, Bullis noted how important it is for the team to focus on the next play.

“That’s not even a question,” Bullis said. “When you get over to the sideline, now let’s go over what happened there and let’s make the correction…That’s the way we coach.”

The Warhawks are now on a 14-year winning streak against the Eagles, with their last loss coming in a 35-10 score during the 2004 season.

Whitewater next week will face another ranked opponent and its biggest foe in UW-Oshkosh. The Titans, who are ranked 12th in the nation, will come to Perkins Stadium fresh off a 48-14 blowout win over UW-River Falls.

UW-W’s next game could very well decide its fate on whether or not the team makes the playoffs.

Bullis noted the team’s mindset is no different when it comes to facing a big-time opponent.

“That in itself could serve as a distraction,” Bullis said. “You start putting too much pressure on yourself and coming into a game tight…We evaluate our opponent as a group in the sense of what their schematics are.”

UW-O last season defeated the Warhawks 37-20. Next week’s game will be the Warhawks’ first home game against the Titans since 2016 when they defeated Oshkosh 17-14 in front of a record-breaking Division III crowd of 17,535.