SALEM, Va. – Matt Behrendt threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns and Wisconsin-Whitewater continued its mastery of Mount Union in the NCAA Division III championship game with a 43-34 victory Friday night.
The Warhawks (15-0) extended their winning streak to 32 games, the longest in the nation, and beat the Purple Raiders for the sixth time in the last seven meetings – all in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl.
Behrendt finished 26 for 38 for 365 yards with two interceptions. Jake Kumerow caught eight passes for 130 yards and a score, and Dennis Moore ran for 74 yards and caught two passes for 108 and a touchdown.
Mount Union (14-1), the winner of 11 national titles, was appearing in the game for the 10th consecutive season, and arrived having admittedly changed some things up on defense after a 52-14 loss to the Warhawks last year in the title game.
On the field, however, Whitewater had Behrendt, and for the second year in a row, he outplayed the Gagliardi Trophy winner, Kevin Burke, in the game that mattered most.
Burke was 25 of 47 for 323 yards and three touchdowns, but after arriving at his final college game with 49 touchdown passes and just five interceptions through 14 games, the Warhawks defense picked him off four times.
Burke has thrown two interceptions Whitewater cornerback Brady Grayvold returned for touchdowns. Grayvold got him last season from 37 yards out, and this time from 25 yards, the second of Whitewater’s three interceptions.
That made it 20-7, and Mount Union answered quickly. Burke led them on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that he finished off with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Taurice Scott, Burke’s 51st TD pass of the season.
Just as quickly as he seemed to have righted the ship, the Purple Raiders unraveled.
The victory sent coach Lance Leipold out in style. He has accepted the job at Buffalo, and finishes eight years with the Warhawks with a 109-6 record and, remarkably, as many national championships as losses in his career.
His Warhawks trailed for just one play all night, 31-30 in the third quarter.
After a touchback, Behrendt hit Moore with a screen pass, and Moore found his blockers, cut back across the field and took it 75 yards for a touchdown, restoring the Warhawks lead to 37-31.
Lake Bacher’s second field goal, from 31 yards out, made it 40-31 with 12:20 to play.
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