Story and photo courtesy of Wisconsin-Whitewater Athletics
Greg Arnold accounted for three turnovers and Levell Coppage earned his eighth career 200+ rushing game, keying UW-Whitewater's 41-14 win over Franklin College at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wisconsin Saturday in a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III second round playoff victory. UW-W, 12-0, will host Salisbury University, 11-1 after a 49-47 triple overtime win over Kean University in a NCAA III quarterfinal game, at 12:00 December 3 in Perkins Stadium.
Franklin had the ball at their 28, facing a third and 24, when running back Reece Craig started right and was hit by Warhawk defensive back Noah Timm (Two Rivers/Two Rivers), forcing a fumble that linebacker Greg Arnold (Big Bend/Mukwonago) recovered at the Franklin 16. Two Levell Coppage (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park) eight yard runs and Whitewater had a 7-0 lead with 6:11 left in the first quarter.
Franklin was on Whitewater's 41, facing third and ten, when sophomore Jonny West's pass was picked off by Arnold at the 34 yard line. Nine plays later, Coppage took it over from six yards out to up Whitewater's lead to 14-0 with 13:21 in the half. Coppage accounted for 48 of the 64 yards on the drive.
After the Warhawk defense forced a three and out, UW-W senior quarterback Matt Blanchard (Lake Zurich, IL/Lake Zurich) switched it up a bit, hitting wide receiver Tyler Huber (Mukwonago/North Prairie) for 21 yards, then connecting with Cory Robinson (Cambridge/Cambridge) for a 43 yard scoring pass, Whitewater's longest completion of the day. Whitewater led 21-0 with 10:26 on the clock.
Franklin roused their following that made the six hour drive with a 13 play, 57 yard drive that consumed 4:04 and ended with a West one yard run with the Grizzlies facing fourth and one at the one yard line to make it 21-7 UW-W.
Whitewater went back to the formula that worked earlier, riding Coppage for 48 of 56 yards on the drive, 27 coming on his third scoring run of the day for a 28-7 lead with 3:04 showing.
Franklin wasn't done, using 62 yards and ten plays to cut the lead in half. The touchdown came with the Grizzlies looking at fourth and five at the Whitewater ten. West passed to Keith Cunningham for the score with just 0:20 on the clock to head into the locker room with UW-W leading 28-14.
Whitewater's defense took away the running game from Franklin in the first half, with the Grizzlies totaling minus 12 yards on 15 carries, but Franklin responded with 214 yards passing as West completed 21-38 passes. Coppage rushed 14 times for 127 yards in the half.
UW-W's opening drive of the second half was set up by Jared Kiesow (Horicon/Horicon)'s 45 yard kickoff return to Franklin's 43 yard line. Coppage accounted for all of the yards on the drive, six rushes and one reception that led to a 23 yard field goal by Eric Kindler (Germantown/Germantown) to put UW-W up 31-14 with 10:25 in the third.
Franklin's next possession was halted again, by Arnold. Third and eight at the Franklin 31, Arnold stepped into West's passing lane and his interception, and 23 yard return, gave Whitewater the ball at the Franklin 12. Three plays lost a total of one yard, and Kindler's 30 yard field goal increased the Warhawks' lead to 34-14 with 8:02 left in the third quarter.
Whitewater wrapped up the scoring with a 70 yard drive. Coppage rushed for 44 of those yards, and Blanchard and Huber accounted for the final 26 yards for the final tally, 41-14 with 3:15 left in the third.
Whitewater has faced Franklin three times in a year. In the first round of the 2010 NCAA III playoffs, UW-W held the Grizzlies to -11 yards rushing. In the second game of the 2011 season, Franklin totaled 40 yards, and Saturday the Warhawks limited FC to -5. In the three games Franklin has totaled 24 yards on 82 attempts (0.29/attempt). Arnold has four takeaways this year, with all four of them coming in the two playoff games. He also had an interception in last week's win over Albion College. Last week it was linebacker Jaren Borland (Fort Atkinson/Fort Atkinson) who had the big stats, with a 54 yard fumble return to a touchdown and a 56 yard blocked punt that he ran in for a touchdown.
The Grizzlies finished with 209 yards passing, with West going 1-10 for -5 yards in the second half. Franklin totaled two yards of offense in the second half.
Franklin came into the game with 22 quarterback sacks (2.0/game) and 73 tackles for a loss (6.3/game). UW-W's offensive line, which had given up just six sacks this season, allowed just one sack and three tackles for a loss. The Warhawk defense also had one sack today, but added ten tackles for a loss.
Coppage rushed 26 times for 221 yards, moving his career total to 7,381 yards -- moving past R.J. Bowers of Grove City College (7,353, 1997-2000) into second place all-time in Division III. Nate Kmic of Mount Union has the D3 record with 8,074 (2005-2008).
The win increased Whitewater's win streak to 42 games, longest active streak in college football (any division) and the fourth longest in the history of the NCAA (any division).