Pointers shock Warhawks
UW-Stevens Point sophomore wide receiver Jared Jenkins calls his veteran head coach John Miech a risk taker.
That’s putting it mildly.
After notching a last-minute touchdown drive to pull to within one-point of second-ranked UW-Whitewater, the Pointers “risk-taker” decided to go for the game-winning two-point conversion with just 14 seconds left.
The fearless Miech then called a play that he hadn’t run since 2004 in front 7,232 screaming Homecoming fans.
Miech’s risky decisions turned into Jared Beckwith hitting a diving Jenkins in the corner of the end zone to gain the stunning 17-16 upset over Whitewater here Saturday afternoon.
“We were in front of 7,000 fans at their (Whitewater) Homecoming and the kids have fought hard and decided that we were going to do it now, and here we go,” Miech said. “Sometimes you’re lucky in coaching. I ran that play four years ago and nobody had seen that play since.”
The opportunistic Pointers’ victory ended Whitewater’s 25-game WIAC winning streak and 26-game home streak.
The win allows Stevens Point (6-1, 3-1) to control its own destiny in its quest to end the Warhawks’ three-year conference championship streak.
Whitewater could have broken UW-La Crosse’s record 25-game all-time conference winning streak from 1949 to 1954.
“We didn’t play well enough to win today,” said Warhawk coach Lance Leipold whose team suffered its first home and conference loss since falling 35-10 to UW-La Crosse in 2004. “We got to decide where we want to go from here. Are we going sit there and feel sorry for ourselves or are going to get back to work Monday and correct what we did wrong?”
The first thing Whitewater (6-1, 3-1) must correct is how to finish off a football game. Leading 16-9 with 3 minutes to play, Warhawk defensive back Paul Wick returned an interception 21 yards to the Pointer 47.
Likely needing just one first down to put the game away, the Warhawks were stuffed on three plays and punted to the Pointers 16 with 1:33 left.
Jenkins then took over from there, piercing the Warhawk secondary with four catches for 57 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown grab and the game-winning two-point conversion reception.
“It’s a great feeling to beat the second-ranked team in the country,” Jenkins said. “Beckwith and I have a connection where we just know that when we need to get going, he believes in me.”
Whitewater believed it was on its way to another victory after Jeff Donovan hit Aaron Rusch with a 33-yard touchdown pass on the fifth play of the game.
But the Pointers answered with two field goals to draw even 6-6 late in the first.
Whitewater responded with a Levell Coppage 35-yard touchdown run to gain a 13-6 lead in the second. Both teams exchanged field goals in the fourth before the Pointers finally caught and passed Whitewater.
“This is like a blessing in disguise,” Donovan said. “If we were just going to float along and just kept winning, then maybe we would have thought we were invincible and we definitely are not.”
STEVENS POINT 17, WHITEWATER 16
Stevens Point Whitewater
First downs 17 17
Rushes-yards 22-28 34-81
Passing 234 196
Comp-Att-Int 29-52-2 16-31-1
Return Yards 103 121
Punts-Avg. 6-25.7 7-36.4
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties-Yards 6-66 9-82
Time of Possession 27:27 32:33
Stevens Point 6 0 0 11—17
Whitewater 6 7 0 3—16
WW—Aaron Rusch, 33 pass from Jeff Donovan (kick blocked), 13:02. SP—FG, Ryan Graboski, 20, 9:56. SP—FG, Graboski, 43, 4:02.
WW—Levell Coppage, 35 run (Jeff Schleber kick), 7:10.
SP—FG, Graboski, 22, 12:58. WW—FG, Schleber, 19, 4:49. SP—Jared Jenkin, 10 pass from Jared Beckwith (Jenkins pass from Beckwith), :15.
RUSHING—Stevens Point: Mike Ferron 9-20, Jack Marx 4-4, Jared Jenkins 2-3, Jared Beckwith 7-1. Whitewater: Levell Coppage 26-91, Antwan Anderson 1-2, Jeff Donovan 7-minus 23.
PASSING—Stevens Point: Jared Beckwith 29-55-2-234, Whitewater: Jeff Donovan 16-31-1-196
RECEIVING—Stevens Point: Jared Jenkins 10-125, Brad Kalsow 6-42, David Hammer 6-41, Ryan Roloff 3-18, Jack Marx 2-4, Jake Swank 2-4. Whitewater: Jordan Wells 6-48, Aaron Rusch 5-69, Nick Slupski 3-37, Matt Gifford 2-42.