Another perfect regular season

The two-time defending national champion Warhawk football team begins its quest for a seventh straight Stagg Bowl appearance after defeating UW-La Crosse Saturday 17-3.

With the win, the ’Hawks went undefeated in the regular season for the third straight year, earned th No. 1 overall seed and will host Albion College at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Junior Tyler Huber goes up and makes a spectacular catch against UW-La Crosse on Saturday. Huber had a career day, grabbing 10 balls for 123 yards. Photo by Andrew Smith

Ending the regular season 10-0, the senior class moved to 53-2 overall, while losing only one regular season game back in 2008.

“Right now, I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” senior linebacker Greg Arnold said. “When you look back at everything, you’re like ‘we’ve won that many games in row, we’ve won that many games while we were here.’ I don’t know if it will actually really sink in until maybe next year, maybe five years down the road, 10 years down the road. I can’t really tell you.”

The Eagles, who the ’Hawks saw in week one of the season, came out strong blitzing all game, which limited senior running back Levell Coppage. With no option of a run game, it allowed Matt Blanchard to have a big game through the air.

“Credit UW-LaCrosse for playing extremely hard,” head coach Lance Leipold said. “They blitzed a lot, almost every play, bringing something of some sort. It made it tough to run the ball today.”

Coppage was held to 68 yards on 27 carries, while the ’Hawks only managed to gain 103 yards on the ground. Blanchard, on the other hand, was efficient with the blitz, completing 26-34 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown.

For those who forgot, Blanchard got injured at the end of last season, causing him to miss the entire playoffs.

“[Blanchard] is going to get his chance to play in his first postseason game because he greatly deserves it,” Leipold said. “The way he’s led our offense and our football team the last couple years, he’s getting confidence in what we’re doing.”

Blanchard found junior wideout Tyler Huber 10 of those times for 123 yards, including a couple nice catches by Huber on third downs.

“I think we did a good job of mixing up play calls with the run and pass,” Blanchard said. “We kept them on their toes. Picking up third downs, that was the big thing … Huber making a ton of great catches. That was something we needed to work on going into this game, picking up those long first downs. We made a statement today.”

It was a slow game offensively for both teams, but the ’Hawks managed to score the first touchdown with one minute left in the half on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Blanchard to Luke Menzel, giving the ’Hawks a 10-0 lead.

Coppage added another score early in the third quarter on a six-yard scamper, which gave them a 17-0 lead.

Although the ’Hawks didn’t put many points on the board, they had long, efficient drives that allowed them to take control of the game.

Arnold said coming into this game, the team wanted to make a statement defensively because even though they went undefeated last season, they received a No. 2 seed overall.

In the two drives that the Eagles had chances to score, the ’Hawks came up big with a sack that left them out of field goal range and Ryan Wenkman came up with a big interception on their own two-yard line.

“We were ready to play,” Arnold said. “It’s the next game on our schedule, it’s not like were looking past it or anything even though we have a playoff spot wrapped up. We’re playing for more than 10-0 in conference, were playing for possibly the number one seed overall.”