The Berry football team found out why the No. 2-ranked Division III football team in the nation is considered a perennial favorite to win a national championship, something it has done six times, when the homestanding Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks handed the No. 25-ranked Vikings a 39-7 defeat Saturday afternoon.
The non-conference loss is Berry’s first of the season, giving the team a 2-1 record heading into an open week next weekend. The Vikings return to action Oct. 2 when they host Trinity in their first Southern Athletic Association test.
Against the Warhawks (3-0), Berry stayed within striking distance of the home team trailing 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, only see Whitewater take control of the game in the second period when the Hawks scored 24 unanswered points, 17 of those coming in the final two minutes, including a pair of touchdowns in the final 45 seconds that were set up by a pair of Berry turnovers.
Whitewater added a touchdown in the third quarter and a field goal at the start of the final stanza to cap its scoring.
The Vikings put their points on the board with 3:30 to play when quarterback Blake Hembree found receiver Cameron Kawa open in the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown pass, with Matthew Syverson added the extra point. The scoring drive that went 39 yards on five plays was set up by an interception by Jake Weitkamp.
Hembree, who took over behind center in the second half, ended the game competing 9 of 17 for 90 yards. Deiondre Wilson was Berry’s leading receiver hauling in 6 passes for 47 yards.
The Vikings were held to just 198 total yards, and only 62 yards on the ground, while Whiewater ended the game amassing 450 total yards.
Quarterback Max Meylor led the Warhawks throwing for 256 yards and three touchdowns.