Football: Victory slips away for ‘Hawks

 

The Warhawk football team saw its historic 46-game winning streak snapped by Buffalo State College 7-6 last Saturday.

The Bengals cut off the ’Hawks’ winning streak at Perkins Stadium and handed head coach Lance Leipold his first non-conference regular season loss, dropping his all-time record at UW-Whitewater to 73-4.

Leipold said the Bengals deserved to win the game and his team needs to improve.

“It’s evident that we have some work to do,” Leipold said. “We have to get better. We had some chances to finish things out and didn’t.”

The ’Hawks’ offense struggled to find a rhythm, Leipold said. The team didn’t play a game the previous Saturday due to the scheduled bye week.

‘Hawks quarterback Lee Brekke said the early bye week wasn’t popular with some players on the team.

“We can’t control [the schedule],” Brekke said. “We got off to a slow start and really couldn’t get it going from there. [I] give credit to Buffalo State. They played us tough and came out with the victory.”

The Bengals began the game with a drive to the ’Hawks’ 21-yard line, ending in a missed field goal.  Brekke, who was 14 of 22 for 188 yards and two interceptions, threw his first interception on the opening drive to Bengals defensive back Chris Hall.

After Brekke’s interception, senior defensive back Ryan Wenkman intercepted Bengals quarterback Casey Kacz at the ’Hawks’ 31-yard line.

A methodical drive ended at the Bengals’ 4-yard line, resulting in an Eric Kindler field goal.

The ’Hawks were held to six points for the first time since Oct. 2, 2004 at UW-Platteville.

“I think we had some highlights that went well, but we just never strung a 10-play drive together to put us in the end zone,” Brekke said. “We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot.”

The ’Hawks continued to struggle throughout the game offensively. Sophomore tailback Ryan Givens and senior tailback Desmin Ward combined for only 123 yards rushing.

Add that to Brekke’s 188 yards passing, and the ’Hawks yardage total was 311.

The Bengals accumulated a total of 356 yards of offense, led by Kacz’s 18 of 32 performance, throwing for 274 yards and a touchdown. Kacz also rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries.

“It’s been a long time since we lost here,” Wenkman said when asked how stunned he was. “We play to win the game.”

After Kindler booted the ball through the uprights to give the ’Hawks a 6-0 lead with 1:35 remaining, Kacz led the Bengals down the field. The Bengals ran a hook-and-lateral to convert on a 4th and 19, and Kacz eventually threw the game winning touchdown pass with three seconds left.

Wenkman said the defense knew the situation, but failed to execute.

“We knew it was one last drive,” he said. “[If] we get them on four downs, then we win the ball game, but it just didn’t happen that way.”

The ’Hawks drop to 1-1 and will face UW-Stevens Point 1 p.m. Saturday, at Perkins Stadium.

Although UW-Stevens Point is in the WIAC, the game will be a non-conference affair. The ’Hawks and Pointers will face off in a conference matchup Oct. 27 in Stevens Point, Wis.

With the 46-game winning streak behind the team, Leipold said although he looks forward to having one less distraction, the historic streak is something to be proud of.

“For the teams that have been part of that [46 game winning streak], they have put themselves, to me, in NCAA football history,” Leipold said. “That accomplishment is something that this program should be proud of.”

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