Big third quarter propels No. 1 Warhawks to victory - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Big third quarter propels No. 1 Warhawks to victory

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FRANKLIN, Ind. – The top-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team scored 35 unanswered points and forced two second-half turnovers Saturday en route to a 45-13 victory over Franklin in a non-conference affair at Faught Stadium.

“It's a good road win,” UW-Whitewater coach Lance Leipold said. “You have to credit (Franklin coach) Mike Leonard and his team. As we've said all along, they're a well-coached football team. I'm awfully proud of the way we played in the second half.”

Senior quarterback Matt Behrendt and senior wide receiver Jake Kumerow connected for three touchdowns to lead the Warhawks' offense. Behrendt completed 19-of-25 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Kumerow finished with nine receptions for 128 yards and tied a career high with three scores.

Junior running back Nick Patterson rushed 12 times for 144 yards and a touchdown, while junior running back Dennis Moore posted 85 yards on seven carries. Senior running back Ryan Givens added 74 yards on seven carries. The team finished with 298 yards on the ground (8.5 yards per carry) and 548 yards of total offense.

“Offensively, I thought we were very aggressive today and did a lot of good things,” Leipold said. “We like our weapons, and we've got to continue to build on it.”

Defensively, UW-Whitewater (2-0 overall) held Franklin scoreless in the second half, allowing just 70 yards of offense following the break.

Seniors Zach Nellis and Mykaell Bratchett led the defense with eight and seven tackles, respectively. Three of Bratchett's stops were for a loss of 21 yards.

Senior defensive back Brady Grayvold and junior linebacker Justin Dischler each recorded a second-half interception.

“We still need to play better in a lot of areas, but we made some plays,” Leipold said. “Justin had his interception, then we had the fourth-down stop and interception by Brady. All of a sudden, we took things over.

In the first half, the Grizzlies (0-2) owned a 2-to-1 advantage (20:43-to-9:17) in time of possession and a 232-217 edge in total yards, but the Warhawks held a 14-13 lead heading into the locker room.

Franklin started the game with a 16-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard rush by quarterback Grant Welp on fourth-and-goal to take a 6-0 lead with 4:31 on the clock.

UW-Whitewater responded on the ensuing drive, pushing 89 yards on eight plays in just over three minutes. Behrendt threw over the middle and found Kumerow, who made a sliding catch to complete the 14-yard play. Sophomore kicker Lake Bachar knocked in the extra point and the Warhawks took a 7-6 lead with 1:08 left in the first.

On the opening play of the next drive, Welp threw short to tight end Dylan Jenney, who turned up field and rumbled 75 yards to put the Grizzlies back on top, 13-7, with just under a minute left in the period.

After the two teams exchanged three-and-out possessions, UW-Whitewater marched 71 yards in seven plays as Behrendt completed five consecutive passes, including a 16-yarder to Worth to make it 14-13 with 9:41 remaining in the second. Worth tallied three receptions for 37 yards on the drive.

Franklin marched right down the field on the next possession, but the Warhawks' defense held strong deep in their own territory. The Grizzlies had three chances to find the end zone inside the 5-yard line, but Bratchett and a swarm of UW-Whitewater defenders stuffed Welp on fourth down from inside the 1-yard line to turn Franklin over on downs.

The Warhawks had a chance to extend their lead, but Behrendt was sacked on fourth-and-four inside the Grizzlies' 25-yard line.

UW-Whitewater scored on its first four possessions of the second half and stymied the Franklin offense into three punts and two turnovers after halftime.

Behrendt threw a jump ball to Kumerow from one yard out with 11:10 on the clock in the third to make it 21-13. Patterson keyed the drive with a 38-yard run, while Kumerow caught four passes on the march.

Dischler picked off Welp on the ensuing possession, and a personal foul gave the Warhawks the ball deep in Franklin territory. UW-Whitewater took advantage as Patterson plunged in from three yards out to make it a two-possession game at the 6:59 mark of the period.

Consecutive sacks by Dischler and Bratchett forced the Grizzlies to punt on the next possession, and Givens crossed the goal line from 34 yards out to make it a 35-13 game with 2:01 to play in the third.

After a Grayvold interception, the Warhawks registered an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive, highlighted by the running of Moore and Patterson and capped by another Behrendt-to-Kumerow connection, this one from two yards out.

UW-Whitewater forced two more Franklin punts and ran out the clock late in the fourth.

The Warhawks continue their run of four road games in six weeks next Saturday at The College of New Jersey. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. in Ewing, N.J.

“We're going to find out what we're about, and it'll help this football team come together too,” Leipold said.

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