SALEM, Va. –No. 3 ranked Mount Union suffered a 43-34 loss to No. 1 ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater in the NCAA Division III National Championship game – the Stagg Bowl Friday in front 5,465 fans at Salem Stadium in Salem, Va.
Two early touchdowns and three first half turnovers that resulted in 17 points as Whitewater led 30-14 at the half.
Whitewater (15-0) senior quarterback Matt Behrendt passed for 365 yards and four touchdowns to win most outstanding player of the game honors.
Senior wide receiver Jake Kumerow had eight catches for 130 yards while Jordan Ratliffe had 24 carries for 116 yards for the Warhawk offense.
Mount Union (14-1) senior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns, junior Roman Namdar (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) had seven catches for 135 yards and Logan Nemeth (McBain, Mich./McBain) had 15 carries for 90 yards.
Whitewater scored on each of its first two possessions as Behrendt threw a pair of touchdown pass to Justin Howard from 12 yards and Ricky Finko from seven yards with a missed extra point gave the Warhawks a 13-0 lead.
Mount Union got on the board late in the first quarter as Burke competed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Luc Meacham (Toledo/Toledo Central Catholic) as it was 13-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams missed field goals attempts to start the second quarter but Whitewater scored on a Brady Grayvold 25-yard interception return for a touchdown to extend the lead to 20-7.
The Raiders came right back as Burke engineered a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by a five yard touchdown pass to Taurice Scott (Alliance/Alliance) which brought the score to 20-14. Whitewater then scored 10 points off a pair of Mount Union turnovers in the final minute of the first half as Behrendt hit Kumerow on a 17-yard touchdown pass and a Lake Bachar 23 yard field goal as the Warhawks led 30-14 at the half.
Mount Union opened the second half with 17-straight points as the Raiders got a 29-yard touchdown pass from Burke to Namdar, a three yard scoring run from Nemeth and a 29-yard field goal from Edward Ruhnke (Bayville, N.J./Central Regional) as the Raiders took their first lead of the game, 31-30.
Whitewater came right back on the next play from scrimmage as Behrendt hit Dennis Moore on a screen pass that went 75 yards for a score and put the Warhawks back up 37-31.
Whitewater converted an interception into a 31-yard field goal from Bachar 2:40 into the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 40-31.
On the ensuing drive, Mount Union scored a 36-yard field goal from Ruhnke to close to within a score, 40-34.
The Warhawks then held the ball for 6:22 and a Bachar field goal made it 43-34 with 3:05 to play.