D-III: Wis-Whitewater 13, Mount Union 3
Levell Coppage didn’t have to be superman this time for
The defense had that covered, and even set up Coppage to grab
some glory, too.
Coppage scored on a 1-yard run set up by the defense and the
Warhawks won their third consecutive Division III national
championship, and fourth in five years, beating Mount Union 13-10
on Friday night in the seventh consecutive title game meeting
between the schools.
”Easiest touchdown in my life, and I even got in there
untouched,” Coppage said about the run with 4:02 left in the third
quarter. It gave the Warhawks a 10-0 lead, and the defense did the
The victory was the 45th in a row for Whitewater (15-0), which
hasn’t lost since Mount Union beat them in the 2008 Amos Alonzo
Stagg Bowl. The Purple Raiders finished 14-1.
Mount Union has won 10 national titles in the last 16 years, and
once seemed to be the untouchable goliath atop the Division III
game, but the Warhawks have taken aim, if not the mantle.
”A lot of guys that I see around us are hungry,” Coppage said,
”and we’re going be whatever it takes to be the face of D-III. …
It’s just amazing to get here and do the things that we’ve been
Mount Union coach Larry Kehres, who lost for just the 24th time
in 26 seasons – his career record is 317-24-3 – said he couldn’t
think of anything to tell his team after the game. He said that
even when the Purple Raiders were winning everything, he never felt
that they were untouchable.
Whitewater, though, is approaching that level.
”Until somebody beats them, they’re untouchable,” Kehres
Coppage, the most outstanding player of the past two title
games, wasn’t nearly as dominant, but cashed in on his most
important opportunity after defensive end Loussaint Minett forced a
fumble and the Warhawks recovered it at the Mount Union 1. Coppage
took it in on the next play.
It was his seventh TD in the last three title games. He finished
with 91 yards on 32 carries, a far cry from his 299 yards rushing
and three touchdowns last season, but still enough.
The Purple Raiders, who had only 77 yards of offense at that
point, answered with a 71-yard drive, but had to settle for a
19-yard field goal when they couldn’t punch it in.
Whitewater answered that with Eric Kindler’s 30-yard field goal
with 5:34 to play, making it a two-score game again, but the team
from Alliance, Ohio, replied again.
This time, an eight-play, 72-yard drive ended with Matt Piloto’s
8-yard scoring pass to A.J. Claycomb with 3:20 to play, giving the
Purple Raiders a chance to hold on defense and score.
They held on defense, but then so did the Warhawks, stopping
Chris Denton after a fourth-down catch to win the closest Stagg
Bowl since Mount Union beat Bridgewater 30-27 in 2001.
The Warhawks’ defense was clearly the star of the night, setting
up Whitewater’s lone TD by sacking Piloto twice in three plays
after the Purple Raiders got the ball at their 16.
The first sack, by Ryan Cortez, was for minus 11 yards. On the
second, Minett stripped the ball away as Piloto was in the grasp of
two other Warhawks and Cole Klotz recovered at the 1. Minett was
honored as the game’s most outstanding player.
”I chased him down and ripped it out,” the sophomore said.
”It was a great feeling.”
Especially when, on the next play, Coppage scored, boosting
Whitewater’s lead to 10-0.
The Purple Raiders responded with a 16-play drive, and had a
first-and-goal at the 6. Jeremy Murray went for 3 yards on first
down, and 2 more on second, but lost a yard on third down and
Kehres settled for Tyler Almeida’s 19-yard field goal, making it
Earlier, the Warhawks seemed in complete control, but without
much to show for it.
Whitewater drove into Mount Union territory on each of its first
three drives, and came away with something the third time, helped
by a 15-yard pass interference call against Chaz Jordan. That put
the ball at the 32, and when the drive stalled, Kindler kicked a
45-yard field goal.
The Purple Raiders responded by driving into Whitewater
territory for the first time on their next possession, but Piloto’s
pass was intercepted by Chris Pendergast from the Warhawks 30. It
was one of two interceptions thrown by Piloto, who was 21 for 38
for 177 yards
Follow Hank on Twitter at http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr