UW-Whitewater captures another D-III title
SALEM, Va.--Matt Behrendt and his Wisconsin-Whitewater teammates spent last year’s NCAA Division III playoffs on the sideline, three-time national championship left out of the playoffs, and a chance to win their fourth title in a row,
They started what they hope is a new streak Friday night with a 52-14 victory over Mount Union.
"Talking for the seniors, it was the best thing that happened to our program," defensive end Loussaint Minett said of being excluded from the postseason in 2012. It gave the Warhawks inspiration to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Behrendt made sure of it, throwing four touchdown passes while the Warhawks’ defense stymied Gagliardi Trophy-winner Kevin Burke and the Purple Raiders, putting the game away with four second-half turnovers.
Behrendt finished 20 for 28 for 249 yards. He also ran six times for 56 yards, often in key situations. It was a tactic he hadn’t used much this season, but in a game with the stakes as high as they get, he said he took whatever was available.
"They were trying to double cover our receivers all day, and that opened up lanes for me," he said.
He also seemed to make every throw, a performance highlighted by a scrambling, sidearm laser to Jake Kumerow in the front right corner of the end zone, a play where there was only one spot to throw the ball, and Behrendt got it there.
"When he’s on a roll like that, you know it’s going to be coming in hot," Kumerow said with a huge smile.
Whitewater, also the champions in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, have won four straight and five of its last six meetings with Mount Union in the Stagg Bowl. The Purple Raiders have won 11 titles, beating Whitewater in 2005, 2006 and 2008.