RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The No. 1 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team tallied a go-ahead touchdown with under 30 seconds to play Saturday to emerge with a 28-25 victory at UW-River Falls in a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference affair at Ramer Field in River Falls, Wis.
With the win, the Warhawks (10-0 overall, 7-0 WIAC) clinch their seventh undefeated regular season in the last 10 years and extend their winning streak to 27 games, the longest in all of college football regardless of division.
UW-Whitewater, which clinched the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs last week, will learn its opponent and game location tomorrow at 5 p.m. during the NCAA Division III Football SelectionShow, which is scheduled to air on NCAA.com.
Trailing 25-21 with 1:20 to play in the fourth quarter after a touchdown by the Falcons (3-7, 2-6), Warhawks senior defensive back Marcus McLin took the ensuing kickoff back 48 yards to the UW-River Falls 39-yard line.
After a holding penalty on the Falcons pushed the ball inside the 30, senior quarterback Matt Behrendt completed consecutive passes to junior running back Dennis Moore and freshman wide receiver Ricky Finco for 15 and eight yards, respectively.
Two plays later, facing third and seven at the 11-yard line after a delay of game penalty, Behrendt found senior wide receiver Justin Howard to give UW-Whitewater a three-point advantage with 26 seconds on the clock.
UW-River Falls gave itself a chance with three seconds on the clock at the Warhawks' 49-yard line, but Ryan Kusilek's Hail Mary pass fell incomplete as time expired.
Behrendt led the offense with 273 yards passing and two touchdowns, while Howard matched a career high with 11 receptions for 128 yards and a score, his second straight receiving effort of more than 100 yards.
Freshman wide receiver Ricky Finco tallied career highs in receptions (7) and yards (62), and caught his second touchdown of the season.
Junior linebacker Justin Dischler led the defense with eight tackles, while junior defensive back Ryan Winske totaled eight stops and recorded an interception, his second of the year.
Sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Tamsett added four tackles, including two for a loss.
The Falcons' 25 points were the most allowed by the Warhawks since Sept. 29, 2012, when UW-Platteville tallied 26 points in UW-Whitewater's 27-26 win.
UW-Whitewater scored on its first two possessions of the game and appeared to be in control early.
After forcing a punt on the Falcons' first drive, the Warhawks drove 76 yards in eight plays as Behrendt found Finco from 24 yards out to put the team ahead with 8:57 to play in the first quarter.
Just under five minutes later, after recovering a fumble at the UW-River Falls 35-yard line, UW-Whitewater struck again as Moore pummeled his way up in from one yard out to make it a two-possession game.
The Falcons made it 14-6 with 10:49 left in the second quarter after a 16-play, 82-yard drive that consumed nearly nine minutes of clock.
The Warhawks were stopped on fourth-and-goal from the UW-River Falls 1-yard line just over seven minutes later after going 73 yards in 19 plays, and neither team was able to score again before the end of the half.
In the third, UW-Whitewater was forced into a three-and-out, and the Falcons found the end zone again with 10:28 left in the third to make it 14-12.
On the ensuing drive, the Warhawks embarked on a 14-play, 67-yard drive to make it a two-possession game at 21-12 with 5:36 on the clock in the fourth. Two plays after converting a fourth-and-one from the Falcons' 9-yard line, junior running back Jordan Ratliffe plunged in from one yard out.
Following punts by both teams, UW-River Falls tallied again to make it 21-18 with 14:12 to play in the fourth.
After another two punts, the Falcons held UW-Whitewater out of the end zone again on fourth-and-goal with 5:21 left to set up their go-ahead drive, which spanned 95 yards in 12 plays.