Warhawks win third straight Stagg Bowl

It wasn’t the game everyone expected, but in the end, the No. 1 ranked Warhawk football team won its third straight NCAA Division-III National Title Friday night in Salem, Va., after defeating No. 2 Mount Union, 13-10.

It was the ’Hawks seventh straight appearance in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. UW-Whitewater has faced Mount Union all seven years. In the seven games between the two, the ’Hawks now hold a 4-3 advantage. The ’Hawks also won in 2007.

It wasn’t until late in the third quarter when things got going for the Warhawks. Leading 3-0, the ’Hawks pinned the Purple Raiders down on its own 16-yard line after a Kris Rosholt punt.

Three plays later, Purple Raiders quarterback Matt Piloto was sacked for a loss of nine and had the ball stripped by defensive end Louissaint Minett. After sophomore linebacker Cole Klotz recovered it at the one-yard line, senior running back Levell Coppage scored the game’s first touchdown to give the ’Hawks a 10-0 lead .

Minett was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after forcing a fumble that led to the game’s first score.

After another UW-Whitewater field goal by sophomore Eric Kindler with 5:34 left in the fourth quarter, which gave the ’Hawks a 13-3 lead, it looked as if the game was over.

Well, it wasn’t. Eight plays and 72 yards later, the Purple Raiders stormed back in just over two minutes to cut the lead to three points after an eight-yard touchdown pass from Piloto to wide out A.J. Claycomb. The drive was set up by a 33-yard pass to wide out Chris Denton.

The ’Hawks had one last drive to put away the Purple Raiders, getting the ball back with 3:16 left in the game. After a three-and-out, the Purple Raiders had one last chance with 2:12 remaining.

After converting on a fourth and two down to their 31-yard line, the Purple Raiders set themselves up with a fourth and ten. They couldn’t convert, giving the ball back to quarterback Matt Blanchard who just took a kneel.

Blanchard, who missed all of last year’s playoffs with a thumb injury, earned his first Stagg Bowl win as a starter. Blanchard finished the game 9-13 for 97 yards and an interception. Coppage, who was the MVP a year ago, was held quiet with 91 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown. Junior Tyler Huber led the ’Hawks in receiving with four catches for 35 yards.

For the Purple Raiders, Piloto finished the game 21-38 for 177 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown. Piloto was taken out of the game after turning the ball over three times, but once backup quarterback Neal Seaman got inured in the first series he was in, Piloto came back and finished. Junior Jeremy Murray led the Purple Raiders in rushing with 59 yards on 22 carries.

For a full story with quotes and pictures, wait for the special section that will come out the first week of the second semester.