UW-Whitewater defense dominates
WHITEWATER Sometimes a dominating defense just can’t buy a break.
UW-Whitewater’s defense forced seven turnovers and pitched a shutout against UW-River Falls here Saturday afternoon, yet questions still surround the fourth-ranked Warhawks’ struggling offense.
The Warhawks committed three turnovers and managed just 233 total yards, but took advantage of the great field position and rolled to a 35-0 victory in front of 11,228 fans.
“We continue to play well on defense,” said Warhawk coach Lance Leipold, whose defense has surrendered a combined 12 rushing yards the last two games. “They (River Falls) are young on offense and we were able to do some things and be disruptive. I’m very pleased with the defense right now.”
The defense will have to keep up its dominating pace until the offense can find its stride, which is a big concern for Leipold.
“Our consistency on offense, first and foremost, has to get better,” He said. “We get six yards on first down, yet we stall the drive from there.”
Warhawk quarterback Lee Brekke continued to be inconsistent, completing 10 of 23 passes for just 67 yards.
“We have to get the offense fixed the next few weeks going forward,” Brekke said. “I think in the second half we took a stand and said we had to get better and that’s what we did.”
Brekke never found a rhythm and was eventually was replaced by Matt Behrendt late in the third quarter.
Behrendt finished 4-for-4 for 27 yards and one touchdown, but will remain the backup for next week’s game.
“Do we need Lee (Brekke) to play better?” Leipold said. “Yeah we do, but we need a lot of guys to play better.”
There are certainly plenty of guys playing well for the Warhawk defense. Warhawk defender Kyle Wismer got things rolling in the first quarter with a 27-yard touchdown fumble recovery. That made it 7-0 Whitewater.
Then following a botched River Falls punt, Whitewater took over possession at the Falcon 32 and eventually capitalized with a Nick Patterson 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to open a 14-point advantage.
The Falcon turnovers continued to stack up into the second half.
After Warhawk linebacker Cole Klotz intercepted a pass deep in Falcon territory, Brekke hit paydirt on a 3-yard touchdown scramble to put his team in control 21-0 midway through the third.
Whitewater tacked on two more scores in the third behind a Desmin Ward 1-yard touchdown run and a Behrendt 9-yard touchdown pass to Steve Morris to blow the game open, 35-0.
“It got to be a short field for offense most of the day, with all the turnovers,” Leipold said.
The focus, however, will remain on the offense the rest of the season.
WHITEWATER 35, RIVER FALLS 0
River Falls 0 0 0 0—0
Whitewater 7 7 21 0—35
W—Kyle Wismer, 27 fumble return (Eric Kindler kick).
W—Nick Patterson, 1 run (Kindler kick).
W—Lee Brekke, 3 run (Kindler kick). W—Desmin Ward, 1 run (Kindler kick). W—Steve Morris, 9 pass from Matt Behrendt (Kindler kick).
First downs 9 12
Rushes-yards 29-3 48-139
Passing 129 94
Comp-Att-Int 20-34-4 14-27-0
Punts-Avg. 8-33.9 7-38.1
Fumbles-Lost 5-3 3-3
Penalties-Yards 3-12 7-50
Time of Possession 29:13 30:47
RUSHING—River Falls: Brad Beeskow, 6-16; John Schimenz, 13-12; Grant Solem, 1- (minus-2); Malcom Wilson, 2-(minus-4); Will Jensen, 1-(minus-9); Ryan Kusilek, 6-(Minus-10). Whitewater: Desmin Ward, 16-78; Nick Patterson, 15-39; Matt Behrendt, 3-16; Richard Holder, 4-11; Dennis Moore, 2-4; Bernie Tamsett, 1-2; Jordan Ratliffe, 1-1; Lee Brekke, 5-(minus-9).
PASSING—River Falls: Ryan Kusilek, 20-34-4-129. Whitewater: Lee Brekke, 10-23-0-67; Matt Behrendt, 4-4-0-27.
RECEIVING—River Falls: Matt Woller, 8-48; Nathan Brandt, 6-59; Jay Ekman, 2-9; Jon Manke, 2-5; Jake Ryan, 1-5; Brad Beeskow, 1-3. Whitewater: Steve Morris, 3-20; Chris Davis, 3-18; Robert Serdar, 2-32; Jake Kumerow, 2-9; Desmin Ward, 1-11; Joe Worth, 1-10; Bernie Tamsett, 1-6; Aaron Samplawski, 1-(minus-2).