The No. 3 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team scored 24 second-half points Saturday to turn a one-possession game early in the fourth quarter into a 37-17 victory over UW-Stout at Perkins Stadium to clinch at least a share of the program’s 37th Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship.
Photos provided by Robert Mischka
Saturday’s win, coupled with UW-Oshkosh’s win, sets up a winner-take-all game for the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship next Saturday, Nov. 16, in Oshkosh.
The Warhawks (9-0 overall, 6-0 WIAC) performed superbly on special teams, leading to their average starting field position of their 46-yard line, compared to the 24-yard line for the Blue Devils (3-6, 2-4).
Junior Andy Cooper averaged 45.8 yards per punt and pinned UW-Stout inside its own 20-yard line four times.
Junior kicker Wojciech Gasienica knocked through three field goals, including a season-long 41-yarder, and converted all four of his extra points in the contest.
Junior wide receiver Ryan Wisniewski led the offense with 11 receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Max Meylor posted 167 yards passing for two scores and rushed for 25 yards and one touchdown.
Junior defensive lineman Mackenzie Balanganayi tallied a team-high eight tackles, including 3.0 for a loss and 2.5 of the team’s seven sacks. Senior defensive lineman Jordan Brand contributed seven stops, including 1.5 sacks.
The two teams exchanged punts to start the game before UW-Whitewater took advantage of a short field for a 28-yard field goal by Gasienica with 8:32 left in the quarter.
UW-Stout tied the affair on a field goal just over seven minutes later before the Warhawks took the lead for good on a five-yard run by junior quarterback Zach Oles nine seconds into the second quarter.
Gasienica made it a 10-point game with a 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Following a defensive stop to start the half that gave UW-Whitewater field position inside Blue Devil territory, Gasienica knocked a 38-yard field goal through the uprights to make it 16-3 with 12:28 remaining in the third quarter.
UW-Stout posted a 15-play, 96-yard drive to draw within 16-10 with 1:25 to go in the third. The Warhawks responded quickly as Meylor found Wisniewski for a 39-yard pass before completing the three-play drive with an 18-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 23-10 lead with 10 seconds left in the period.
The Blue Devils started the fourth with another touchdown to make it 23-17 with 13:27 to play.
After a UW-W turnover and a UW-Stout punt, Meylor completed four passes in five plays to move the Warhawks 54 yards, capping the drive with a 7-yard pass to Wisniewski for a 30-17 advantage at the 8:04 mark.
UW-Whitewater came up with a defensive stop on fourth-and-1 near midfield, and following a punt, tallied another fourth-down stop.
Meylor’s 14-yard pass to Wisniewski capped the scoring with 2:25 on the clock.
Next Saturday’s game at UW-Oshkosh will kick off at 6 p.m. and air live on television on My24.