Warhawks to host Aurora in first round of Div. III Championship

Whitewater Football Pound The Rock

WHITEWATER, Wis. — Fresh off of capturing a share of another WIAC title, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks now know their first-round opponent for the Division III Championship.

The Warhawks will host NACC champions Aurora University at Perkins Stadium next Saturday. The Illinois squad is coming off a big shutout win over Concordia-Wisconsin and will be looking to take down a third Wisconsin-based team in three weeks.

Aurora lost their opening game to Hope College, but have been untouchable ever since. They head into the postseason with a 9-1 record with five games of 50 or more points scored.

Josh Swanson suits up at quarterback for the Spartans. He has averaged 270.5 passing yards a game this season with 8 interceptions and 43 touchdowns. His favorite target is Trey Madsen, who has 54 receptions this year and 15 touchdowns. Madsen averages 86.78 receiving yards per game.

Aurora has three running backs with more than 30 carries this season, but it’s Jhe’Quay Chretin who is called upon most often. The senior from Bastrop, Texas has 1184 total rushing yards this season and averages 118.40 per game. He registered a season-high 209 yards against Benedictine last month.

The Spartan defense has stood strong all season, thanks in large part to the secondary’s ability to pick off passes. Three Aurora defensive backs each have five interceptions and the team has forced a total of 25 interceptions.

Aurora defenders have also forced 13 fumbles, recovering 8, and have registered 9 sacks. Aurora’s opponents have converted on less than 30% of their third down attempts.

UW-Whitewater also lost their opening game and have also been untouchable ever since, save for one game. The Warhawks were upset last month by UW-Platteville, losing the Miner’s Axe for the first time in decades.

RELATED: UW-Platteville knocks off UW-Whitewater to bring home Miner’s Axe

The Warhawks have employed a balanced attack this season, gaining almost as many yards on the ground as they have through the air.

Evan Lewandowski has held down the starting job all season for Whitewater. Lewandowksi has registered 2094 passing yards and 15 passing touchdowns, averaging 209.40 passing yards per game. However, he does have 11 interceptions including a season-high 4 in the loss to Platteville.

Three Warhawk running backs have seen consistent playing time this season. Jaylon Edmundson has 674 total rushing yards on 123 carries and 6 touchdowns.

Preston Strasburg also has 6 rushing touchdowns. He also has 240 rushing yards on 52 carries. Tamir Thomas has found the endzone for a rushing touchdown 3 times this season and has tallied 618 total yards on 99 carries.

The Warhawk defense has forced 8 interceptions and 15 fumbles, recovering 9. Whitewater also has a knack for sacking the quarterback. The team has registered  28 sacks totaling 185 yards lost.

With their seasons on the line, Aurora and Whitewater will go head-to-head next Saturday at Perkins Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.