UW-Whitewater scores 28 unanswered to advance

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Tim Wester, Special to The Gazette
Saturday, December 7, 2013

WHITEWATER—Linfield and UW-Whitewater have only played three times in the last nine years, with each game ending in more Wildcat heartbreak.

The latest example being Saturday afternoon when Linfield’s top-ranked offense was pasting the top-ranked Warhawk defense 17-0 early in the second quarter.

And then momentum swung in Whitewater’s favor for good with the Warhawks scoring 28 unanswered points en route to a 28-17 victory here in an NCAA Division 3 Quarterfinal victory Saturday afternoon.

With the comeback victory, Whitewater advances to its eight semifinal in nine years against Mary Hardin-Baylor at a site to be determined.

Game site aside, it will certainly be hard to forget another Whitewater/Linfield classic game. The Warhawks previously upset the Wildcats 44-41 in 2005 and then came from behind in 2009 to win here 27-17 in an NCAA Division 3 semifinal game.

The third time around, however, may have been the most epic.

After being outgained 248-59 early in the second quarter, Whitewater held Linfield scoreless the rest of the way thanks to some brilliant defense adjustments that resulted in seven second half sacks.

 “We just realized that they (Linfield) are leaving a lot of guys in protection and we weren’t making plays and making things happen,” Warhawk defensive coordinator Brian Borland said. “So we just cut it loose with the pass rush in the second half.”

The Warhawk no-huddle offense certainly cut it loose in the second quarter as well.

Down 17-0, Behrendt quickly orchestrated a 6-play scoring drive, capped by his 17-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Huber with 11:06 left in the half.

After a Linfield, punt, the Warhawks added an 8-play scoring drive that climaxed with a Jake Kumerow 12-yard touchdown catch in deep left corner to cut the lead to 17-14.

“We changed our tempo in second quarter and went with more of our fast-paced stuff to tire them (Linfield) out,” Warhawk head coach Lance Leipold said. “Our guys have thrived on the rhythm.”

The Wildcats appeared to have ended the Warhawk rhythm early in the third after a fake punt run put them at the Whitewater 38.

But Warhawk lineman John Flood killed the momentum with a blind-side sack and forced fumble on quarterback Josh Yoder that was recovered by Kyle Wismer at the 45.

Eight plays later, Behrendt scrambled right and found Kumerow in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass to Whitewater up 21-17 late in the third.

Kumerow late tacked on a 10-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth to build the lead to 28-17.

The Warhawk defense continued its dominating play to help finish off the Wildcats.

“That (Whitewater) defense was one of the best defenses that I’ve seen in quite some time,” Linfield coach Joseph Smith said. “Their defensive line got after us in the second half.”

The Wildcats certainly got after it in first quarter en route to a 7-0 lead. Then following a Marcus McLin fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Warhawk 20. Linfield had a chance to increase the advantage to 14-0 on fourth and goal at 1, but a high snap to running back Chad Coburn resulted in a fumble that ended the drive.

Still, the botched play didn’t stop Linfield from tacking on 10 more points, including Yoder’s 60-yard touchdown pass to Evan Peterson early in the second quarter to make it 17-0.

But it was Whitewater after that.

“We felt good at halftime with what it would take to win,” Leipold said. “It was a pretty special win.”

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