Three interceptions power Warhawk win
WHITEWATER—After dropping a sure interception last week against St. Norbert, UW-Whitewater cornerback Brady Grayvold said he took plenty of ribbing from his teammates.
Grayvold will be doing all the ribbing this week after tying a school record with three interceptions, including one returned 41 yards for a touchdown return against Franklin (Ind.) here Saturday afternoon.
Whitewater forced four turnovers in all and held the Grizzlies' nationally ranked offense to a season-low three points en route to a 31-3 victory in an NCAA Division III football second-round playoff game.
With the dominating defensive performance, Whitewater advances to its eighth NCAA Division III quarterfinal in nine years against Linfield here next Saturday.
“It was another outstanding performance by our team defensively today,” Warhawk coach Lance Leipold said. “To be able to take an offensive team with a quarterback like Johnny West and keep them out of the end zone sure says a lot about the type of defense we played.”
Holding Franklin without a touchdown is no small feat. West came into the game leading Division III with 40 touchdown passes.
“What a great gameplan they (Whitewater) had,” Franklin coach Mike Leonard said. “They are fundamentally sound and make very few mistakes and made us one-dimensional.”
Whitewater had a pretty sound gameplan offensively, as well. Warhawk quarterback Matt Behrendt outplayed West by tossing three touchdown passes, starting with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jake Kumerow that put Whitewater ahead 7-0 early in the first.
Behrendt later made it 14-0 with a quick 14-yard strike over the middle to Justin Howard to make it 14-0 in the second.
The Grizzlies, with the help of a Warhawk roughing the passer penalty, finally had a chance to retake momentum with a long drive inside the Whitewater 10.
But wide receiver Michael Maloian's controversial dropped pass in the end zone on fourth and 2 squandered the drive and the momentum.
“I had a great vantage point and I thought he (Maloian) had it,” Leonard said. “If I had a red flag in my sock, I would have thrown it, but I trust both officials who said the ball was dropped.”
Whitewater then added insult to injury with a 14-play, 82-yard scoring drive, capped by Eric Kindler's 29-yard field to help the Warhawks cruise into halftime with a 17-0 lead.
The Grizzlies managed to draw to within 17-3 in the third quarter on Mike Wood's 46-yard field goal, but it wasn't enough.
Following a Loussaint Minett blocked punt at the Franklin 29, Behrendt hit a leaping Kumerow for a 29-yard touchdown pass to blow the game open, 23-3.
Grayvold eventually put the finishing touches on the victory with the 41-yard touchdown return in the fourth.
“You have to give a lot of credit to our front seven for creating pressure,” Grayvold said. “I dropped a pretty bad interception last week and took a lot of heat for that, but when you get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, you get a lot chances for picks.”
Whitewater will need to continue to keep the heat on quarterbacks as they advance to face more elaborate passing games in the playoffs.