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Warhawks blitz Wabash

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Tim Wester/Special to the Gazette
December 1, 2007
— California native and starting UW-Whitewater quarterback Danny Jones sprinted onto the snow-covered Perkins Stadium field in short sleeves to prove he wasn’t intimidated by his first Wisconsin winter storm.

The California Lutheran University transfer wasn’t intimidated by Wabash (Ind.), either.


Jones racked up four touchdown passes and ran for another to lead his Warhawk football team to an impressive 47-7 victory over the Little Giants in an NCAA Division III quarterfinal battle here Saturday.


The Warhawks (12-1) move on to face Mary Hardin Baylor of Texas in a semifinal matchup here at noon next Saturday.


The Crusaders (12-1) advanced by knocking off Wesley, 27-10, and will be looking to avenge a 41-14 loss to Whitewater in a regular-season game at Perkins Stadium.


Meanwhile, in completing nine of 15 passes for 181 yards and directing Whitewater’s 523-yard attack, Jones enjoyed showing he could handle a Wisconsin winter punch.


“I knew when I came here that it was going to snow and be cold, and if I didn’t think I could play in it, then I wouldn’t be here right now,” said Jones, who transferred last summer. “This is kind of dream that I had to sit with these (UW-Whitewater) guys because I wanted to do anything I could to play for a national title.’’


The Little Giants, however, had to consider playing in Whitewater more of a nightmare.


On the third play of the game, Warhawk senior cornerback Gabe Schultz ruined Wabash quarterback Dustin Huff’s return from a broken leg with an 18-yard interception return to the Little Giants’ 22-yard line. Four plays later, Justin Beaver plowed into the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run.


After a Wabash punt on the ensuing possession, Jones capped a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Nick Slupski.


Whitewater then turned two more Wabash interceptions into a 6-yard Jones touchdown run and a Neil Mrkvicka 33-yard touchdown reception. That opened a commanding 28-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first quarter.


“Our ability for us to get turnovers early and convert those turnovers into scores was huge for our momentum to get points in the first quarter,” said Warhawk coach Lance Leipold, whose team intercepted five passes against Wabash.


Wabash coach Craig Creighton blamed the early turnovers on too many Whitewater defenders on the field.


“I don’t have a game plan for playing against 13 guys, and that’s what it seemed like they (Whitewater’s defense) had out there.”


Whitewater didn’t let up from there and had a 35-0 halftime lead after Aaron Rusch’s 18-yard touchdown reception with 33 seconds left in the second quarter.


The Little Giants finally scored in the third on backup quarterback Matt Hudson’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Russell.


Whitewater then responded with a Brady Pittz 42-yard touchdown run and a Jones 57-yard touchdown pass to Rusch to finalize the blowout.


To go along with Jones’ big day, the final numbers also showed Whitewater with 338 yards rushing. Pittz and Beaver each had 21 carries for 156 and 145 yards, respectively.


“Whitewater's a great football, and I know they have been knocking on the door of a national championship the last few years, so I hope they can win it all,” Creighton said.


At the moment, the Warhawks are just two wins away from making it happen.


WHITEWATER 47, WABASH 7


TEAM STATISTICS


Wab Whi


First downs »» 13 »» 24


Rushes-yards » 16-17 » 54-338


Yards passing » 179 » 185


Passes 17-42-5 10-17-0


Return yards »» 8-98 »» 2-33


Punts-avg. »3-26.0 »3-27.7


Fumbles-lost » 0-0 » 2-0


Penalties-yards » 2-10 » 6-58


Time of possession » 22:09 » 37.51


SCORING SUMMARY


Wabash College 0 0 7 0—7


UW-Whitewater 28 7 12 0—47


First Quarter


Whi—Justin Beaver, 3 run (Nick Croak kick), 13:29. Whi—Nick Slupski, 19 pass from Danny Jones (Croak kick), 8:52. Whi—Jones, 6 run (Croak kick), 5:09. Whi—Neil Mrkvicka, 33 pass from Jones (Croak kick).


Second Quarter


Whi—Aaron Rusch, 16 pass from Jones (Croak kick), :33.


Third Quarter


Wab—Mike Russell, 6 pass from Matt Hudson (Drew Oehler kick), 7:26. Whi—Brady Pittz, 42 run (kick failed), 5:48. W—Rusch, 57 pass from Jones (kick failed), :02.


INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS


RUSHING–Wabash: Evan Sobecki 8-29, C.P. Porter 4-19, Matt Hudson 3-3, Team 1/-34. Whitewater: Brady Pittz 21-156, Justin Beaver 21-145, Brian Ryczkowski 1-4, Derek Underwood 3-4, Max Wasikowski 0-2.


PASSING–Wasbash: Matt Hudson 33-16-166, Dustin Juff 8-1-2-13. Whitewater: Danny Jones 15-9-0-181, Brian Ryczkowski 2-1-0-4.


RECEIVING–Wabash: Brock Graham 5-46, Mike Russell 4-71, Bart Banach 4-32, Gabe Guerrero 2-14, Scott Liska 1-9, C.P. Porter 1-7. Whitewater: Aaron Rusch 3-84, Neil Mrkvicka 2-49, Nick Slupski 2-25, Matt Gifford 1-13, Justin Beaver 1-10, Josh Mishleau 1-4.


Attendance—2,335.



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