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Wisconsin-Whitewater beats Linfield 20-14 in D-III semis

WHITEWATER, Wis. — Dennis Moore scored on a 33-yard run with five minutes remaining to give defending champion Wisconsin-Whitewater a 20-14 victory over Linfield on Saturday in the Division III semifinals.

Top-ranked Whitewater (14-0), which has won five of the last seven national titles, will face No. 3 Mount Union (14-0) next Friday night in the Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va. Mount Union, which lost to Whitewater in last year’s final, advanced with a 70-21 rout of fourth-ranked Wesley.

The victory gives Whitewater coach Lance Leipold another shot at a championship in his final game before he takes over at the University of Buffalo. Leipold is 108-6 at Whitewater, including 33-1 in the playoffs.

Moore’s run capped a nine-play, 80-yard go-ahead drive after Linfield had rallied from a 14-0 deficit to tie it 14-14. The conversion kick was blocked.

The 10th-ranked Wildcats (11-2) drove to the Whitewater 20 on its last possession, but quarterback Sam Riddle was sacked and fumbled on fourth-and-3. The Warhawks then got the one first down needed to run out the clock. It was the fourth time Whitewater has knocked Linfield out of the playoffs.

Riddle, who was limited to 64 yards passing and one yard rushing in the first half, engineered two third-quarter scoring drives as the Wildcats erased a 14-0 deficit.

Linfield was awarded a recovery on a Warhawk fumble at the Whitewater 33 after officials overturned the on-field call after review. The Wildcats responded with a six-play scoring drive, capped by Riddle’s 14-yard pass to tight end Levi Altringer.

On their ensuing possession, the Wildcats tied it at 14-14 when Riddle capped an 88-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown run.

The Warhawks took a 14-0 halftime lead behind two touchdown passes from Matt Behrendt. Whitewater’s first score was set up by a punt downed at the Linfield 1. On the first play, Riddle’s pass from his own end zone was intercepted by safety Ryan Winske at the Linfield 32. After two running plays gained 11 and 13 yards, Behrendt hit Jake Kumerow with an 8-yard scoring pass to make it 7-0 with 4:56 left in the first quarter.

Whitewater’s second score came when Linfield’s all-out blitz was countered by a screen pass to running back Dennis Moore for a 46-yard touchdown.

Late in the half, the Warhawks recovered a mishandled punt at the Linfield 16, but Behrendt’s third-down pass was intercepted in the end zone by Kyle Belcher.