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.
Friday Night Lights in Texas: ✔️ pic.twitter.com/hd2hPztiJu— NCAA Division III (@NCAADIII) December 21, 2019
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 DIII football championship: 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)
- Muhlenberg 24, Salisbury 8
- Wisconsin-Whitewater 26, Mary-Hardin Baylor 7
- Saint John's (MN) 34, Wheaton (IL) 33
- North Central (IL) 31, vs. Delaware Valley 14
Saturday, Nov. 30 | Second round
- Muhlenberg 42, Brockport 0
- Salisbury 62, Union (N.Y.) 41
- Delaware Valley 45, Wesley 10
- North Central (Ill.) 59, Mount Union 52
- Mary Hardin-Baylor 42, Huntingdon 6
- Wheaton (Ill.) 49, Central (Iowa) 13
- UW-Whitewater 41, Wartburg 28
- St. John's (Minn.) 55, Chapman 26
Saturday, Nov. 23 | First round
- Huntingdon 27, Berry 24
- Wartburg 41, Hope 3
- Salisbury 83, SUNY Maritime 0
- Muhlenberg 38, MIT 0
- Wheaton (Ill) 51, Martin Luther 7
- Wisconsin-Whitewater 35, Monmouth (Ill) 10
- Mount Union 65, Hanover 14
- Union (NY) 24, CWRU 21
- Brockport 33, Western New England 28
- Wesley 58, Framingham State 21
- Delaware Valley 30, Bridgewater 20
- Mary Hardin-Baylor 43, Redlands 14
- Central (Iowa) 38, Wisconsin-Oshkosh 37 (OT)
- St. John's (Minn.) 51, Aurora 47
- North Central (Ill.) 51, Wabash 15
- Chapman 68, Linfield 65 (3OT)
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.
|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.|