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Gagliardi award finalist Max Meylor had a special day as he helped UW-Whitewater reach the Division 3 National Semifinal for the 13th time in program history. Meylor had two passing touchdowns as well as one rushing and receiving touchdown in the Warhawks’ 51-21 win in the National Quarterfinal over Central on Saturday at Perkins Stadium. 

UW-Whitewater’s offensive day did not get off to a great start as Central’s Brody Hein blocked a Matt Maldonado punt and took it in for the opening score on the first possession of the game. Quarterback Max Meylor and the Warhawks’ offense responded as Meylor hit receiver Tyler Holte twice on the next drive as the two capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. 

“That first play and how we reacted after that was really kind of the story of the game,” UW-Whitewater head coach Kevin Bullis said. “Whether it was our defense getting a stop or not getting a stop, and our offense responding. It was our ability to go and play that next play to the standard that we expected to happen.”

On the next possession, Central quarterback Blaine Hawkins made his way into the NCAA record book as he connected on a four-yard touchdown pass with Jeff Herbers to retake the lead. The touchdown pass was the 62nd of the season for Hawkins, breaking a 17-year old all-division NCAA record set by Linfield quarterback Brett Elliot in 2004. 

“It is definitely a special thing to have,” Central quarterback Blaine Hawkins said after the game. “It is exciting to have that record, but it is more exciting to share that with the guys on the team.”

After a 59-yard return from Ryan Wisniewski on the ensuing kickoff, Max Meylor scored seven plays later from two-yards out to cut it to 14-13 after a blocked extra point. Following a defensive stand, Meylor connected with Holte on a 36-yard touchdown pass to grab their first lead of the game.

Following an interception by Mark McGrath later in the half, UW-Whitewater added on their version of the “Philly” special as Wisniewski hit Meylor for a four-yard trick play touchdown to push the lead to 27-14. Central’s offense responded with a 15-play drive ending with Hawkins’ second touchdown connection with Herbers as the Warhawks went into the locker room with a 27-21 lead. 

“That was a fun one and we had that dialed up this week,” UW-Whitewater quarterback Max Meylor said of the trick play. “The time came for it, and we executed.”

After three straight punts to start the second half, senior running back Alex Peete capped a four carry drive with a 13-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 34-21 with 4:56 remaining in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Warhawks added on a 30-yard field goal from Maldonado and two more rushing touchdowns of 29-yards and 10-yards from Peete to get the 51-21 win. 

Meylor went 17-for-22 for 230 yards in the victory, while Peete ran for 184 yards on 32 carries. Holte was Meylor’s go-to receiver in the game with five catches for 85 yards, while Shane McGrail led the Warhawks offense with seven tackles. 

With the win, UW-Whitewater advances to the Division 3 National Semifinal against Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday. UW-Whitewater has faced the Crusaders in the playoffs the last two years including a 26-7 road win in the 2019 National Quarterfinal.

Saturday’s game will be at 2:30 p.m at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, and will be broadcast live on ESPN Plus. The winner will face either Mount Union or North Central in the National Championship game on Dec. 17th in Canton, Ohio.