Drenched from heavy rain, ravaged by 17 penalties, and out of sync after a 40-minute lightning delay before kickoff, UW-Whitewater desperately needed a spark.
Warhawks receiver Jarrod Ware provided just that with a clutch 53-yard reverse run that set up Drew Patterson’s 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
It helped lead Whitewater to a 21-14 victory in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football action Friday night at Perkins Stadium.
“You don’t just throw a trick play to do a trick play, you throw it because you see what you need to do,” UW-Whitewater head coach Kevin Bullis said. “And it was definitely huge for us.”
Whitewater improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference. La Crosse fell to 5-1 and 2-1.
Patterson was a catalyst for Whitewater, running for 221 yards and three touchdowns, including a 93-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
And Janesville Craig graduate Harry Henschler sparked the defense, with three sacks to lead the way in a second consecutive win.
Patterson scored twice in the second half, with touchdowns runs of 1 and 93 yards to turn a 7-7 game at half into a two-touchdown lead.
“The 93-yard run was something we set up earlier in our schemes throughout the game,” Patterson said. “And it was a good time when we were backed up a little bit there, and it was just well executed blocking.”
Whitewater maintained its 14-point margin late into the fourth quarter before La Crosse finally answered with a Drew David 3-yard touchdown pass to Nick Holcomb to cut it to 21-14 with 2:11 left.
Then, following a Whitewater punt, La Crosse had the ball at its16-yard line with a minute left. But the Eagles failed to get past the 43 from there, and the Warhawks defense forced a turnover on downs to seal it.
“La Crosse is a three-step-drop offense and get the ball out quick, but we found ways to take advantage of that,” Henschler said. “We just pounded, pounded, pounded and eventually started getting to the quarterback.”
The Warhawks offense did most of the pounding in the first quarter on Cole Wilber’s 45-yard pass to Delavan-Darien product Marcus Hudson to the La Crosse 4. Patterson ran off left tackle for a 4-yard touchdown run on the next play to make it 7-0 Whitewater.
The Eagles later squandered three scoring chances inside the Whitewater 40. They were stopped each time by the opportune Warhawks defense.
La Crosse finally put a complete 12-play, 56-yard drive behind backup quarterback Drew David’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Cal Mazur to tie it at 7 late in the first half.
The shell-shocked Warhawks limped into halftime needing a second-half spark. That’s when Ware and Patterson finally provided the remedy to lead the team to victory.
“You just have to fight through adverse times and hopefully bounce back,” Patterson said. “And this was something we were able to do.”
WHITEWATER 21, LA CROSSE 14
UW-La Crosse 0 7 0 7—14
UW-Whitewater 7 0 7 7—21
Scoring: W—Drew Patterson 4 run (Wojciech Gasienica kick). L—Cal Mazur 4 pass from Drew David (Bryce Wesling kick). W—Patterson 1 run (Gasienica kick). W—Patterson 93 run (Gasienica kick). L—Nick Holcomb 3 pass from David (Wesling kick).
Statistics: First downs—L 20, W 11. Rushing—L 40-51, W 41-275. Passing yards—L 222, W 61. Passes—L 54-36-0, W 21-7-0. Fumbles—L 2-1, W 1-1. Penalties—L 2-15, W 17-132.