football-d3 flag

NCAA.com | December 21, 2019

North Central beats Wisconsin-Whitewater in Stagg Bowl, wins 2019 DIII football championship

North Central is crowned the DIII football national champion

North Central (Ill.) defeated Wisconsin-Whitewater 41-14 to win the 2019 Division III football national championship. It's the first title in program history for the Cardinals.  

North Central led wire-to-wire, and dominated the Warhawks on both sides of the ball. Cardinals quarterback Broc Rutter completed 18 of his 27 passing attempts, while throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Tailback Ethan Greenfield also opened up the passing game with a three-touchdown, 138-yard performance on the ground.

North Central defensive back Julian Bell had two interceptions, with the second one ending Wisconsin-Whitewater's comeback attempt. 

The Warhawks, who trailed by as many as 34, were going for their first title since 2014. Quarterback Max Meylor (183 yards, two interceptions) connected with Jared Zausch on a 12-yard score for his only touchdown pass of the night. Meylor also had 104 rushing yards.

North Central beats Wisconsin-Whitewater in Stagg Bowl, wins 2019 DIII football championship

Final - North Central 41, Wisconsin-Whitewater 14

  • Meylor makes a beautiful pass on the run on 4th-and-19 to find Tyler Holte across the middle for a 27-yard completion. 
  • The Warhawks avoid disaster, as a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown was negated thanks to an encroachment from North Central.
  • Wisconwin-Whitewater then punched it into the end zone on a one-yard run from Peete. The point-after attempt was good, and the Warhawks trail 34-14. 
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater then recovered an onside kick at midfield.
  • The Warhawks were starting to pick up steam, but a Julian Bell interception with just over eight minutes to play abruptly ended any chance of a comeback. It was the second interception of the game for the North Central defensive back.

End of the 3rd quarter - North Central 34, Wisconsin-Whitewater 7

  • Peete runs for a 47-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage of the second half. But the Warhawks couldn't capitalize with good field position, and Gasienca's 33-yard field-goal attempt missed to the left.
  • And the Cardinals made them pay on the very next drive. Greenfield burst into the open field for a 38-yard touchdown run. Meyer then nailed another point-after attempt, and North Central continued to dominate up 34-0. That touchdown was Greenfield's third of the night.
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater's Sam DeLany returned the next kickoff for 51 yards, once again setting up the Warhawks offense in an ideal spot. 
  • Meylor found Jared Zausch for a 12-yard touchdown pass to give Wisconsin-Whitewater its first score of the game with 4:52 remaining in the third. Gasienca converted the point-after attempt to make it a 34-7 game.
  • The Warhawks forced North Central to punt on the next possession, and have one quarter left to erase a 27-point deficit. 

End of the 2nd quarter - North Central 27, Wisconsin-Whitewater 0

  • North Central defensive back Julian Bell intercepted a Max Meylor pass just 59 seconds into the second quarter. Bell returns it 20 yards before being forced out of bounds at the Warhawks' 46-yard line.
  • Rutter ran for a one-yard score off a play fake to give the Cardinals a 19-0 lead with 10:12 to play in the half. Placekicker Magnus Meyer added the extra point to make it 20-0.
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater kicker Wojciech Gasienica missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt at the 7:48 mark of the second. The ball fell several yards short of the goalpost in the middle of the end zone. 
  • Greenfield's second touchdown of the half comes with 1:49 to play in the second. He bounced off an offensive lineman, and rolled left to walk in untouched for a two-yard score. A successful point-after attempt made it a 27-0 advantage for the Cardinals.
  • North Central had 284 yards of total offense (185 passing, 100 rushing) in the first half, while the Warhawks finished with 138 yards (80 passing, 58 rushing).

End of the 1st quarter - North Central 13, Wisconsin-Whitewater 0

  • North Central began the opening drive on Wisconsin-Whitewater's 45-yard line, thanks to a 49-yard kickoff return from Terrence Hill. 
  • Ethan Greenfield's five-yard touchdown run opened the scoring at the 12:27 mark of the first quarter. But a bobbled snap on the point-after attempt forced the Cardinals to settle for a 6-0 lead.
  • The Warhawks struggled to establish a running game for most of the quarter. Running back Alex Peete had little time to get out of the backfield, especially on delayed hand-offs. 
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater converted on a 4th-and-1 to extend its third drive of the game. Peete ran for five yards on a draw play up the middle. But the Warhawks eventually turned the ball over downs with 2:16 to play.
  • The Cardinals' offensive line gave quarterback Broc Rutter plenty of protection in the pocket. Rutter used the extra time towards his advantage, and found a wide-open Blake Williams for a 31-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left in the quarter. This time, North Central converted the point-after attempt to make it 13-0 Cardinals.

Pregame - 7:45 p.m.

As Wisconsin-Whitewater looks to add another national championship trophy to its case, North Central is hoping to make program history.

The Warhawks won national crowns six times between 2007 and 2014 — and now they're back in the Stagg Bowl attempting to add a seventh. The Cardinals don't approach that kind of history, as they're playing in their first title game.

This marks the third meeting between the two programs. The Warhawks have won the two prior games, 59-28 in the second round of the 2007 DIII Championship and then 20-10 in the quarterfinals of the 2010 DIII Championship.

Here's how we got here:

In the semifinals, North Central scored the first 35 points and opened up a 38-7 lead at halftime in a dominating 45-14 showing against Muhlenberg. Ethan Greenfiel rushed for 199 yards and Broc Rutter threw for five touchdowns as the Cardinals handed Muhlenberg its first loss of the year.

Wisconsin-Whitewater earned its title game spot with a 35-32 nail-biter over Saint John's (MN). Wojciech Gasienica's field goal with 2:10 left in regulation broke a 32-32 tie and stood as the game-winner. 

You'll find the complete schedule and results from past rounds below. Follow here for live updates from the national championship game. 

2019 CHAMPIONSHIP: Interactive bracket | Printable bracket Selection show

2019 DIII football championship: Bracket

The 2019 DIII football tournament bracket

2019 DIII football championship: Schedule and scores

Friday, Dec. 20 | National championship game

Saturday, Dec. 14 | Semifinals

Saturday, Dec. 7 | Quarterfinals (all times Eastern)

Saturday, Nov. 30 | Second round 

Saturday, Nov. 23 | First round 

DIII football championship: What to know

Will 2019 be the rubber match in DIII football's newest rivalry? The last two national championship games — also known as the Stagg Bowl — have seen Mary Hardin-Baylor and Mount Union square off, with the Purple Raiders winning in 2017 and the Crusaders winning last year. There is zero question that both of these teams have the firepower to get back for another go. 

Mount Union enters the tourney with the second-highest scoring offense in DIII football at 54.5 points per game and counters with the second-best scoring defense, allowing just 7.50 points-per-game. Mary Hardin-Baylor is right behind them, third in scoring (52.1 ppg) and defense (7.60 ppg). It's probably no surprise that both teams have yet to lose in 2019. In fact, the two teams both have just one loss apiece over the past three seasons and it has come to each other.

The Purple Raiders and The Cru are two of eight teams entering the tournament undefeated. They are joined by Salisbury, Union (NY), Wheaton (Ill), Muhlenberg, Bridgewater and Chapman. The only thing we know is that this tournament certainly won't end that way. Wheaton is one to watch, allowing a paltry 6.20 points per game in 2019. 

History of the DIII football championship

Mary Hardin-Baylor won its second title in three years, defeating Mount Union 24-16 in 2018. It was the first DIII football championship in Shenandoah. The previous 25 years the Stagg Bowl was played in Salem, Virginia, and was an era dominated by Mount Union. The Purple Raiders won the first Stagg Bowl played in Salem back in 1993 as well as the final one in 2018 — and an unprecedented 11 in between. 

Below is the complete history of the DIII football championship game. 

YEAR CHAMPION COACH SCORE RUNNER-UP SITE
2018 Mary Hardin-Baylor Pete Fredenburg 24-16 Mount Union Shenandoah, Texas
2017 Mount Union Vince Kehres 12-0 Mary Hardin-Baylor Salem, Va.
2016 Mary Hardin-Baylor Pete Fredenburg 10-7 Wisconsin-Oshkosh Salem, Va.
2015 Mount Union Vince Kehres 49-35 St. Thomas (Minn.) Salem, Va.
2014 Wisconsin-Whitewater Lance Leipold 43-34 Mount Union Salem, Va.
2013 Wisconsin-Whitewater Lance Leipold 52-14 Mount Union Salem, Va.
2012 Mount Union Larry Kehres 28-10 St. Thomas (Minn.) Salem, Va.
2011 Wisconsin-Whitewater Lance Leipold 13-10 Mount Union Salem, Va.
2010 Wisconsin-Whitewater Lance Leipold 31-21 Mount Union Salem, Va.
2009 Wisconsin-Whitewater Lance Leipold 38-28 Mount Union Salem, Va.
2008 Mount Union Larry Kehres 31-26 Wisconsin-Whitewater Salem, Va.
2007 Wisconsin-Whitewater Lance Leipold 31-21 Mount Union Salem, Va.
2006 Mount Union Larry Kehres 35-16 Wisconsin-Whitewater Salem, Va.
2005 Mount Union Larry Kehres 35-28 Wisconsin-Whitewater Salem, Va.
2004 Linfield Jay Locey 28-21 Mary Hardin-Baylor Salem, Va.
2003 St. John's (Minn.) John Gagliardi 24-6 Mount Union Salem, Va.
2002 Mount Union Larry Kehres 48-7 Trinity (Texas) Salem, Va.
2001 Mount Union Larry Kehres 30-27 Bridgewater (Va.) Salem, Va.
2000 Mount Union Larry Kehres 10-7 St. John's (Minn.) Salem, Va.
1999 Pacific Lutheran Frosty Westering 42-13 Rowan Salem, Va.
1998 Mount Union Larry Kehres 44-24 Rowan Salem, Va.
1997 Mount Union Larry Kehres 61-12 Lycoming Salem, Va.
1996 Mount Union Larry Kehres 56-24 Rowan Salem, Va.
1995 Wisconsin-La Crosse Roger Harring 36-7 Rowan Salem, Va.
1994 Albion Pete Schmidt 38-15 Washington & Jefferson Salem, Va.
1993 Mount Union Larry Kehres 34-24 Rowan Salem, Va.
1992 Wisconsin-La Crosse Roger Harring 16-12 Washington & Jefferson Bradenton, Fla.
1991 Ithaca Jim Butterfield 34-20 Dayton Bradenton, Fla.
1990 Allegheny Ken O'Keefe 21-14 Lycoming Bradenton, Fla.
1989 Dayton Mike Kelly 17-7 Union (N.Y.) Phenix City, Ala.
1988 Ithaca Jim Butterfield 39-24 Central (Iowa) Phenix City, Ala.
1987 Wagner Walkt Hameline 19-3 Dayton Phenix City, Ala.
1986 Augustana (Ill.) Bob Reade 31-3 Salisbury Phenix City, Ala.
1985 Augustana (Ill.) Bob Reade 20-7 Ithaca Phenix City, Ala.
1984 Augustana (Ill.) Bob Reade 21-12 Central (Iowa) Kings Island, Ohio
1983 Augustana (Ill.) Bob Reade 21-17 Union (N.Y.) Kings Island, Ohio
1982 West Georgia Bobby Pate 14-0 Augustana (N.Y.) Phenix City, Ala.
1981 Widener Bill Manlove 24-10 Dayton Phenix City, Ala.
1980 Dayton Rick Carter 63-0 Ithaca Phenix City, Ala.
1979 Ithaca Jim Buttersfield 14-10 Wittenberg Phenix City, Ala.
1978 Baldwin-Wallace Lee Tressel 24-10 Wittenberg Phenix City, Ala.
1977 Widener Bill Manlove 39-36 Wabash Phenix City, Ala.
1976 St.John's (Minn.) John Gagliardi 31-28 Towson Phenix City, Ala.
1975 Wittenberg Dave Maurer 28-0 Ithaca Phenix City, Ala.
1974 Central (Iowa) Ron Schipper 10-8 Ithaca Phenix City, Ala.
1973 Wittenberg Dave Maurer 41-0 Juniata Phenix City, Ala.

College football's 9 winningest teams

Here are the nine winningest college football programs in the history of the sport.
READ MORE

2020 XFL rosters: Complete list of college players on every team

Here are the 2020 XFL rosters. Find out where every XFL player went to college and which colleges are the most represented in the new football league.
READ MORE

Super Bowl MVPs by college

A look at where every Super Bowl MVP went to college and which college has the most MVP's.
READ MORE