Warhawks earn hard-fought road win
STEVENS POINT—UW-Whitewater's football team clinched at least a share of the WIAC title Saturday afternoon.
Justin Howard returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and set up another Whitewater score with a long punt return to lead the Warhawks to a 17-7 win over UW-Stevens Point.
Whitewater improved to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the WIAC and can clinch the outright title with a victory over winless UW-River Falls in the regular-season finale next Saturday at Perkins Stadium.
The Warhawks didn't generate much offense, finishing with only 182 total yards, but the defense was sensational once again. Stevens Point (4-5, 2-4) had only 14 yards rushing and quarterback Mitch Beau was sacked four times by the Warhawk defense.
“We got some huge plays from Justin on special teams, and our defense was up to the challenge,” Whitewater coach Lance Leipold said.
“When you go on the road in our conference, you know it's going to be tough.”
Stevens Point tied the game at 7-7 midway through the second quarter, but Howard took the ensuing kickoff and raced 99 yards for the go-ahead score. All-America placekicker Eric Kindler gave the Warhawks a two-possession lead with a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Whitewater, which was picked for second in the WIAC behind UW-Platteville, can earn a possible No. 1 seed for the postseason with a win over River Falls.
“We've earned a share of the title, which is rewarding, but we've got a chance to win the whole thing outright, and that's a big motivator,” Leipold said.
“It has been an emotional four weeks for us, and the team has really handled it well. We're really looking forward to coming home and playing for a chance to win the conference title in front of our fans.”