Survive and Advance, Hawks into Quarterfinal

Whitewater forces five turnovers to defeat Wartburg, setting up reunion with UMHB

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Survive and Advance, Hawks into Quarterfinal

Senior wide receiver Justin Prostinak enters the endzone after returning a punt for a touchdown to go up 17-0 in the first quarter against Wartburg.

Senior wide receiver Justin Prostinak enters the endzone after returning a punt for a touchdown to go up 17-0 in the first quarter against Wartburg.

Dane Sheehan

Senior wide receiver Justin Prostinak enters the endzone after returning a punt for a touchdown to go up 17-0 in the first quarter against Wartburg.

Dane Sheehan

Dane Sheehan

Senior wide receiver Justin Prostinak enters the endzone after returning a punt for a touchdown to go up 17-0 in the first quarter against Wartburg.

Ross Guyette, Assistant Sports Editor

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Picks, picks and more picks. Wartburg College’s air raid offense fell short as Whitewaters defense forces the Knights into throwing four interceptions as a result. Kickoff at Perkins Stadium was more tense this time around as the stakes are much higher as the trip to the quarter finals were on the line.

Coach Bullis wanted his team to come out and control the momentum and in the first half they did just that.  Whitewater proved tough, picking off Wartburgs quarterback and making them fumble in back to back possession that saw whitewater turn those into 14 points. The nightmare continued for the Knights, who entered the second quarter down 17 points.

The trend of costly turnovers didn’t end there. Whitewater’s dominant defense forced five over the whole game. Going into halftime 31-7, there were no signs of life for the Knights.  That didn’t hold true for long as they were close to tying it up as time ran down the fourth but ultimately could not clinch, losing 28-41 as a late game interception by Whitewater sealed their fate.

Although losing their W.I.A.C defensive player of the year in Mackenzie Balanganayi, Warhawks filled the void and regrouped in a strong way for a great team win. Senior Linebacker Matt Anderson had this to say about a strong team win,” We came into the week focused on ourselves and we wanted to make sure we were getting better,” adamant on his team’s efforts,” we knew that they had a good quarterback and we wanted to make sure we played fast and make plays and at the end of the game we did just that.”

The first half ended Their season low of offensive output (238 yards) could be something to take note of as they only mustered 75 yards through the air as Max Meylor completed 11-18. Bullis took note of the missteps on offense but did not show concern, “We knew that we were going to get on top of them fast, we got those takeaways and kept getting at them knowing they have a history of coming back from behind,” calmed by his defense weathering the storm,” Our offense played off of our defense well and even though the output wasn’t always there it’s good to know that even on our best day we can play well and win against good teams.”

There was no lack of production but more lack of opportunity The offense worked with a lot of short fields where they were 50 or less yards away from the endzone. Senior RB Ronnie Ponnick commented on the quarterfinal matchup against No.1 Mary Hardin-Baylor,” It will be standard procedure, we are going to trust our coaches and study the tape so that we are in filled in and try to put ourselves in the best position to win, they beat us last year at this time. We remember that, we want to redeem ourselves as an opponent we respect their ability.”

The 11-1 Warhawks will be moving on to the Quarterfinals for the 13th time in 15 seasons. The location and time will be announced, but the date is set for Dec. 7.