On three consecutive plays, UW-Whitewater sealed Monmouth’s fate.
Late in the first quarter, the Warhawks scored a touchdown, recovered a fumble and scored another touchdown in succession to lead the way to a 35-10 victory in an NCAA Division III first-round game.
Whitewater quarterback Max Meylor fired four touchdown passes, while Alex Peete ran for a touchdown and caught another to propel the Warhawks into the second round against Wartburg at a site and time to be determined.
Wartburg pummeled Hope College 41-3 in its first-round game Saturday.
“I was very pleased with how we came out of the gate early,” UW-Whitewater coach Kevin Bullis said. “It was great to see Max get comfortable. He made some mistakes on the first drive of the game, but he was able to overcome them.”
Meylor’s comfort grew during a game-changing, three-play spurt that started with his 13-yard touchdown pass to a diving Ryan Wisniewski in the corner of the end zone. That made it 7-0 Whitewater.
Then on the ensuing kickoff, Warhawk linebacker Kaleb Kaminski stripped the ball from the returner and recovered the fumble at the Monmouth 26. On the next play, Meylor hit Peete on a perfectly-executed 26-yard touchdown pass.
“Those three plays were huge and just a big swing,” Monmouth coach Chad Braun said. “Against a great program you can’t make mistakes like that.”
Meylor and the offense kept rolling in the first half with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Derek Kumerow and a Peete 3-yard run to make it 28-0 at halftime.
Meylor, who was named the starter last Monday after replacing Zach Oles on the final drive in the WIAC finale at Oshkosh, completed 16 out 26 passes for 183 yards.
“I had all week to prepare for this opportunity,” Meylor said. “I had an extra pep in my step knowing I would be out there and after missing guys in practice I had to make sure I got on the same page with them.”
A 28-point lead was more than enough for the Warhawk defense that dominated Monmouth for most of the game.
“We didn’t see anything new from them formation wise,” Whitewater defensive end Jordan Brand said. “Everything they did we saw on film.”
Monmouth was able to gain the upper hand on special teams. The Fighting Scots blocked two Andy Cooper punts in the second half. The first block at the Warhawk 35 set up Monmouth’s lone touchdown on Walker Dycus’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Graham to cut the deficit to 28-7 early in the third.
“We did see some things on film that we thought we could take advantage of in the punt game,” Braun said. “We just didn’t get them to punt it enough.”
Meylor kept the punting game on the bench the ensuing drive with a 52-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Wisniewski on an apparent blown coverage to make it 35-7 Whitewater.
Monmouth later tacked on a 28-yard Joey Biel field goal to cut it 35-10 in the fourth but did get any closer.
Whitewater will now wait for the decision on venue for next week before preparing for Wartburg.
UW-WHITEWATER 35, MONMOUTH 10
Monmouth 0 0 7 3—10
UW-Whitewater 14 14 7 0—35
Scoring summary: W—Ryan Wisniewski, 13 pass from Max Meylor (Wojciech Gasienica kick). W—Alex Peete, 26 pass from Meylor (Gasienica kick). W—Derek Kumerow, 11 pass from Meylor (Gasienica kick). W—Peete, 3 run (Gasienica kick). M—Nathan Graham, 16 pass from Walker Dycus (Joey Biel kick). W—Wisniewski, 52 pass from Meylor (Gasienica kick). M—FG, Biel, 28.
Statistics: First downs—M 6 (6 passing), Whitewater 28 (19 rushing, 8 passing, 1 penalty). Rushes—M 16-0, W 59-278. Yards passing—M 172, W 200. Passes—M 33-21-1, W 28-18-1. Fumbles—M 1-1, W 0-0. Penalties—M 5-50, M 4-40.