MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin Lutheran College football linebacker Tanner Behnke (Brillion, Wis./Brillion) intercepted a pass by Concordia Wisconsin's Austin Damaschke and returned it 23 yards into the end zone for the game-winning score in the third quarter of the Warriors' 21-14 triumph over their NACC rivals Saturday at Raabe Stadium. By virtue of the victory and Benedictine's win over Lakeland, WLC earned a three-way share of the conference title with Benedictine and Lakeland for the first conference championship in program history. The Warriors also reclaimed the Luther Cup with their first win over the Falcons since 2011.
WHERE THEY STAND
- The Warriors set a single-season school record with six consecutive victories to finish the season 7-3 overall and 5-1 in NACC play. The seven wins match the 2012 team for the most in program history and WLC established a new program record with five conference victories. Benedictine earned the NACC's automatic berth into the NCAA Playoffs via a tiebreaker.
- Concordia Wisconsin lost its final three games to finish 5-5 with a 3-3 record in conference play.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Each team fumbled on its first possession of the game. Following a three-and-out by CUW, Wisconsin Lutheran moved 45 yards in eight plays to take the lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Chris Williams (Chicago, Ill./Chicago Bulls College Prep) with 8:49 remaining in the opening quarter.
- The Warriors' fumbled inside the Falcons' 10-yard line for the second time in the first quarter, and CUW converted the turnover into a 12 play, 93-yard drive, capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Shay Klitzke to tie the game early in the second quarter.
- Following another fumble by WLC, the Falcons marched 46 yards on six plays and grabbed the lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Damaschke to Lovester Marshall with 6:53 left until halftime.
- Alex Foster (Kenosha, Wis./St. Joseph) returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Falcons' 37 yard-line. On the next play, Gino DeGeorge (Las Vegas, Nev./Faith Lutheran) connected with Mitch Skarban (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran) on a 37-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at 14 just 19 seconds after CUW had taken the lead.
- With 6:20 remaining in the third quarter, Behnke made the play of the season with his pick-six, which turned out to be the decisive score.
- The Warriors' defense shutout the Falcons' offense on just 64 total yards in the second half, and CUW was 0-for-6 on third-down conversions in the closing half as WLC held on for the victory.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- The Warriors are now 3-11 all-time against the Falcons and own a 3-4 record in the Lutheran Bowl.
- WLC piled up a season-high 510 yards of offense, including 322 yards through the air, while holding CUW to 324 yards.
- The Warriors won despite six turnovers, including five fumbles on the day, three of which occurred in the red zone. WLC forced the Falcons into three turnovers, including two fumbles.
- DeGeorge finished 26-of-38 for 322 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Skarban hauled in nine passes for 141 yards and a score. Brad Nemetz (Denmark, Wis./Denmark) added 64 yards on four grabs.
- Joshua Helton (Houston, Texas/Waltrip) helped the Warriors move the ball and the clock with 34 carries for 134 yards. Williams ran six times for 25 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game due to an injury.
- Behnke recorded eight tackles and a tackle for a loss in addition to his historic interception. Jestin Heimbruch (Manawa, Wis./Little Wolf) also made eight tackles, while forcing and recovering a fumble on the Falcons' first drive. Luke Sebald (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) notched seven tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, and a forced fumble and Dakota Eland (Menominee, Mich./Menominee) posted seven tackles and set a school single-game record with five pass breakups.
- Damaschke finished 22-of-43 for 226 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also led the Falcons with 51 rushing yards on 19 carries. Klitzke ran 12 times for 47 yards and a score. Dominic Saragaglia made nine catches for 102 yards, while Marshall pulled in six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
- Austin Kaatz recorded a game-high 11 tackles and recovered two fumbles, while Richie Guess, Uzziel McDermit, and Bryan Thomas supplied nine tackles apiece.