Coppage sets rushing record in Whitewater's victory
Warhawk running back Levell Coppage kicked off the festivities with a record-breaking 46-yard run early in the first quarter that propelled him past former Whitewater star Justin Beaver’s all-time WIAC football rushing record of 6,584 yards.
Coppage, a Warhawk senior, later sent 10,308 happy fans home with a season-high 245 rushing yards and three touchdowns that led top-ranked Whitewater to a 31-16 victory over UW-Stevens Point here Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, Whitewater (8-0, 5-0) extended its all-NCAA-division-leading win streak to 38. The Warhawks also clinched a tie for their seventh straight WIAC championship when UW-La Crosse upset UW-Oshkosh.
“I don’t know if our team fully understands that they have been in a good battle and won the battle on the scoreboard,” Warhawk coach Lance Leipold said of his team dropped Stevens Point to 2-3 in WIAC and 4-4 overall. “But we’ve got to understand that was a good football team and good win for us.”
One thing the Warhawks did understand was how close Coppage was to breaking the conference rushing record. He was greeted with loud applause after he eclipsed the record.
“The record means everything to me,” said Coppage, who is now third in Division III all-time rushing yards. “I was looking back this week on our All-American wall, and there was about three guys on my line my freshman year that were All-Americans, and it’s just kept going.”
Coppage got the Warhawks going against Stevens Point with a 47-yard touchdown run on the opening drive that put his team up 7-0.
The Pointers stormed down the field on their ensuing possession and scored on a Ben Wetzel 1-yard touchdown run with 10:45 left in the opening period to make it 7-6.
Coppage answered on the next drive with his record breaking run that set up his 6-yard touchdown scamper, which gave Whitewater a 14-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
After Jered Fohrman’s 42-yard field goal pulled Stevens Point within 14-9, Whitewater’s Matt Blanchard answered with a pinpoint 57-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown pass to Tyler Huber. That extended the lead to 21-9 with 47 seconds still left in the first period.
But the Pointers continued to punish the Warhawk secondary with the deep pass, capped by Theo Maglio’s 29-yard catch that got his team within 21-16 in the second quarter.
“Those fade passes Point throws are tough on our secondary,” Leipold said. “You’d like to see the corners turn a little bit, but we played them better as the game went along.”
In fact, the Warhawks shut out the Pointers attack in the second half, leading the way for Whitewater’s offense.
Eric Kindler tacked on three points with a 23-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to give Whitewater a 24-16 lead.
Coppage finally struck the decisive blow late in the fourth with a 40-yard touchdown run that pushed the advance to 31-16.
“A two-touchdown victory in this league is pretty darn good, in my estimation,” Leipold said. “We’re going to take it and build from it and try to get better.”
WHITEWATER 31, STEVENS POINT 16
First downs 14 18
Rushes-yards 34-74 42-267
Passing 223 153
Comp-Att-Int 13-31-2 12-24-0
Return Yards 47 72
Punts-Avg. 8-40.0 8-43.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-76 8-82
Time of Poss. 28:35 31:25
UW-Stevens Point 9 7 0 0—16
UW-Whitewater 21 0 3 7—31
W—Levell Coppage, 47 run (Eric Kindler kick), 13:38. SP—Ben Wetzel, 1 run (kick failed), 10:45. W—Coppage, 6 run (Kindler kick), 8:16. SP—Field goal, Jered Fohrman, 42, 4:32. W—Tyler Huber, 57 pass from Matt Blanchard (Kindler kick), 3:40.
SP—Theo Maglio, 29 pass from Mitch Beau (Fohrman kick), 10:32.
W—FG, Kindler, 23, 7:53.
W—Coppage, 40 run (Kindler kick), 2:27.
RUSHING—Stevens Point: Mullins 1-2, Beau 18-53, Ingram 4-minus 7, Wetzel 11-26. Whitewater: Coppage 29-255, Blanchard 5-3, Ward 5-6, Huber 2-14, Brekke 1-minus 1.
PASSING—Stevens Point: Beau 13-31-2-223. Whitewater: Blanchard 12-24-0-153.
RECEIVING—Stevens Point: Mullins 6-66, Maglio 4-102, Ingram 3-55. Whitewater: Huber 4-96, Howard 1-9, Morris 2-8, Robinson 1-9, Tamsett 1-7, Ford 2-7, Serdar 1-11.