Mike Santa Barbara, NCAA.com
DOVER, Del. — Wisconsin-Whitewater is headed back to Division III football’s version of the Super Bowl — the Stagg Bowl.
For the sixth time.
The defending Division III football national champions on Saturday upended Wesley, 27-7, on the strength of five interceptions, including one by linebacker Greg Arnold that set up a 1-yard touchdown run to open a 24-7 lead late in the game.
The Warhawks, along with Mount Union, a 34-14 winner against Bethel, will reprieve their role in the title game next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Stagg Bowl, which is played in Salem, Va., will be televised on ESPNU.
Mount Union (14-0) leads the championship game series with victories in 2005, 2006 and 2008 while Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0) won in 2007 and 2009. With the exception of the 2006 championship, which Mount Union won, 35-16, none have been decided by more than 10 points.
Saturday marked the third time Wesley and Wisconsin-Whitewater have met in the playoffs, and the first time the game was played at Wesley. Despite the change of venue, Wisconsin-Whitewater has won all three meetings.
On Saturday, running back Levell Coppage, who rushed for 146 yards, scored off Arnold’s pick. He scored two touchdowns in the game, both on 1-yard runs.
Though Whitewater first on the board with a 19-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, Wesley (12-1) responded with its only score of the game. The Wolverines went ahead, 7-3, at the end of the first quarter when Matt Barile caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Justin Sottilare.
The lead was short-lived.
Wisconsin-Whitewater sophomore quarterback Lee Brekke, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 144 yards, put the Warhawks ahead, 10-7, with 13 minutes, 48 seconds to play in the first half. Brekke capped a 72-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Adam Brandes, who caught two passes for 39 yards.
The Warhawks never trailed again.
In the third quarter, Coppage scored both of his touchdowns within 24 seconds of each other. The first capped an eight-play 24-yard drive following an interception and the second was a 1-yard run following Arnold’s interception and 63-yard return.
Wisconsin-Whitewater turned on the defense beginning in the second quarter. The Warhawks grabbed five interceptions and held Wesley to minus-7 yards on the ground. Jared Kiesow had two picks and Casey Casper had two sacks.
Wesley’s Sottilare had a miserable day. Besides the interceptions, he was sacked five times and late in the third quarter, he threw back-to-back interceptions. Sottilare threw for 256 yards but completed only 24 of 43 attempts.
Wesley struggled after losing star receiver Ellis Krout on the first play. Krout returned for one play, and Wesley was unable to adjust and establish a running game.
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