Warhawks climb the mountain
The Warhawks enter the stadium Saturday on their way to winning
the NCAA Division III national championship. Photo by Bill Turner
The UW-Whitewater Warhawks removed a big monkey from their back when the defeated Mt. Union College Saturday for the NCAA Division III National Championship.
It was the third year in a row that the two teams battled for the title, but this time the Warhawks were victorious with a 31-21 win.
The victory in the 2007 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl title also snapping the Purple Raiders 37-game winning streak.
While defense may have been the prevailing factor in the opening half of play, Justin Beaver and the UW-W offense went toe-to-toe with the vaunted Mount Union attack in the second 30 minutes of action. Beaver took home his second award of the weekend, earning the game's Most Outstanding Player award after running for 249 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
"I've said along that we have a great group of seniors and that they played their hearts out," said UW-W head coach Lance Leipold. "Our staff did an outstanding job in making sure we believe. I can't say how proud I am of our guys and the rest of our program."
Coming out of the half with a 10-0 lead, the Warhawks increased their advantage to 17-0 when lineman Michael Sherman made a Beaver fumble obsolete as he came away from the pile in the endzone for a touchdown.
Mount Union's offense, which had averaged better than 54 points coming into the Stagg Bowl, sprang into action with a pair of Nate Kmic touchdown runs. Kmic scored his first on an 11-yard carry. Linebacker Tony DeRiggi forced the ball from Beaver's grasp for a second time on the ensuing drive, leading to Kmic's second score via a one-yard plunge.
Beaver made up for his rough third quarter with an excellent fourth frame. He toted the ball 10 times for 115 yards including a 13-yard touchdown run to make the score 24-14 with 6:11 to play. He also darted 66-yards on the Warhawks' next possession to set-up quarterback Danny Jones' second touchdown sneak of the day and put the game out of reach.
"You can't get anything better than winning a nation title in your last game," said Beaver.