WHITEWATER, WIS. – Wojciech Gasienica’s 37-yard field goal — his fourth field goal of the game — with 2 minutes, 10 seconds remaining and an interception by Matt Anderson on the ensuing possession lifted Wisconsin-Whitewater to a 35-32 victory over St. John’s in the NCAA Division III semifinals on Saturday.
The victory advanced the Warhawks (13-1) to the national championship game for the first time since 2014. The Johnnies (12-2) were bidding for their first trip to the championship game since 2003.
Following the field goal, St. John’s Ryan LaCasse returned the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the Johnnies 42-yard line. On the next play, Anderson intercepted Jackson Erdmann’s pass.
“... Their kid made a tremendous play,” said Johnnies coach Gary Fasching. “Kai [Barber] had the ball and he wrestled it away. Jackson made the right read. He put the ball in the right spot. That kid just made a great play.”
St. John’s had tied the score with 7 minutes, 43 seconds remaining on Barber’s 1-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion.
The Johnnies had leads of 13-8 and 21-15 in the second quarter, but the Warhawks scored with 21 seconds remaining in the first half to take a 22-21 lead at halftime. Max Meylor’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Derek Kumerow capped the drive.
Erdmann completed 29 of 50 passes for 342 yards. He was sacked seven times. Ravi Alston had 11 receptions for 143 yards for the Johnnies.
Wisconsin-Whitewater will play North Central (Ill.) next Saturday at Shenandoah, Texas. North Central defeated Muhlenberg 45-14 in the other semifinal.