The No. 5 ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team saw its magical 2018 season come to an end Saturday afternoon, falling 31-14 at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor in a semifinal of the NCAA Division III Championship at Crusader Stadium in Belton, Texas.
The Warhawks (13-1 overall) claimed the program’s 36th Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and the 11th appearance in the national semifinals in team history in 2018.
Junior running back Ronny Ponick led the UW-Whitewater offense with 14 carries for 70 yards and a one-yard touchdown run with 5:47 to play in the fourth quarter that brought the team within 10 points.
The Crusaders (14-0), who advance to face No. 1 Mount Union (Ohio) in Friday’s Stagg Bowl national championship game, converted a crucial third-and-eight on their way to a game-clinching touchdown with 2:33 remaining in the contest.
Senior quarterback Cole Wilber finished his Warhawk career with 107 yards and a 2-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Bryce Bellefeuille in the third quarter that put UW-Whitewater on the board.
Junior linebacker Matt Anderson posted a team-best 13 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and one sack. Junior linebacker Jacob Erbs tallied 11 tackles, and senior linebacker Bryce Leszczynski collected 10 tackles and an interception that he returned for 64 yards in the third quarter.
Senior defensive end Harry Henschler totaled seven tackles, including two for a loss, and junior defensive back Nate Tranel posted six tackles and two pass breakups.