Warhawks outlast defending WIAC champs
OSHKOSH—UW-Whitewater’s football team got defensive Saturday.
The Warhawks defense came up with three turnovers, including Kyle Wismer’s late interception, as Whitewater held off UW-Oshkosh, 17-14, in a key Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle of ranked teams.
“It was a big road win for us against an excellent football team and the defending conference champs,” UW-W head coach Lance Leipold said. “To find a way to make plays on both sides of the ball in the second half was encouraging.”
Whitewater improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in conference play heading into next Saturday’s first-place showdown with unbeaten UW-Platteville.
The Warhawks took an early lead on Eric Kindler’s 36-yard field goal, but the Titans answered and eventually took a 14-10 halftime lead.
After a scoreless third quarter, Whitewater took the lead for good with a two-play, 74-yard drive. Tailback Jordan Ratliffe scampered 56 yards to the Oshkosh 18-yard line on the first play of the drive, and Booker Ross scored on the next play on an 18-yard rush.
“Those two young backs really came through when we were kind of sputtering,” Leipold said.
Oshkosh had chances to tie the game or take the lead, but Whitewater’s defense was up to the task. On the Titans’ final drive, Wismer stepped in front of Nick Olla’s pass and intercepted it at the Oshkosh 47 with 37 seconds left. The Titans had no timeouts left, and Whitewater quarterback Matt Behrendt was able to take a knee on back-to-back plays to end the game.
“Our second-half defense, they settled down,” Leipold said. “We were able to get more pressure. Kyle Wismer made some outstanding plays. He made a play on third down on a screen play and then got the interception.”
Behrendt finished 22-of-40 for 236 yards and one touchdown. Ratliffe ran for 126 yards, while receiver Jake Kumerow had nine catches for 135 yards.
Delavan-Darien High graduate Marcus McLin led the Warhawks with eight tackles. Ryan Winske also had an interception and John Flood recovered a fumble as UW-W won a nail-biter—the kind of game that gave them trouble a year ago.
“It’s a confidence-builder for our young players,” Leipold said. “Those are some of the tough ones we didn’t get last year. We can put that in the rearview mirror, and now you get another chance to play in a big game next week.”