UW-Oshkosh snapped UW-Whitewater's 26-game conference winning streak with a 28-13 triumph on Saturday (Oct. 20) in Whitewater. The Titans assume the WIAC lead with their 4-0 record (7-0 overall).
UW-Whitewater (5-2/3-1 WIAC) entered the game ranked fifth by D3football.com, while UW-Oshkosh was 10th. The Titans dominated the first half, jumping to a 21-0 lead, before the Warhawks battled back during the third quarter. UW-Oshkosh put the game away on Cole Myhra's (Jr. • Menomonee Falls) touchdown run with 6:48 remaining.
"We built for this one moment," Coach Pat Cerroni said. "We recruited kids that want to beat champions.
"We know what our goal is. But one time, in 2012, it was our day. And it was great."
In front of the largest crowd in WIAC history (12,318), the Titans got off to another fast start. UW-Oshkosh took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards, including 66 on the ground. UW-Whitewater, the three-time defending national champion, had been allowing just 29 rushing yards per game. Cory Wipperfurth (Jr. • DeForest) scampered 23 yards down the left sideline to reach enemy territory. Nate Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh) then tossed a five-yard fade pass to Caleb Voss (Jr. • Van Dyne) in the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
The next three possessions resulted in punts before the Titans struck again. Facing 3rd-and-10, Wara had time in the pocket and launched a perfect pass to Voss, who caught it at the 10-yard line and jogged in for a 60-yard score. UW-Oshkosh has now outscored its opposition, 68-0, in the first quarter this year.
On the opening play of the second period, Tim Filter (Sr. • New Berlin) made a leaping interception at the Titan seven-yard line. Filter made another pick midway through the quarter that placed UW-Oshkosh 30 yards from pay dirt. On 3rd-and-14, Wara connected with Wipperfurth for a 21-yard touchdown that made it 21-0. Wipperfurth made an amazing grab while touching one foot inbounds.
The Warhawks totaled just 28 yards on their first 17 plays of the contest. During the first half, UW-Oshkosh forced five punts and two turnovers. The Titans outgained the Warhawks, 245-53, while holding a 12-1 edge in first downs.
"Our defense feels a lot more comfortable playing with the lead," Filter said. "In the second half, it was our turn. We're a very balanced team."
Steve Morris caught a 41-yard pass on UW-Whitewater's second play of the third quarter. The Warhawks reached the 11-yard line, but a failed backward pass cost them 21 yards. The Titan defense got a stop on fourth down to end the threat.
The next UW-Whitewater drive featured a 14-yard completion to Zach Howard and a 22-yard touchdown pass from Matt Behrendt to Joe Worth. Worth stumbled coming out of his break, but the ball hit him on the numbers and he spun out of a tackle to make it 21-7 with 6:33 on the third-quarter clock.
The Warhawks, who led the nation in scoring defense (7.8 points per game), got another three-and-out to build momentum. UW-Whitewater took advantage of a short field with Behrendt's 29-yard touchdown to Dantrell Wright in the back of the end zone. A missed extra point left the margin at 21-13.
UW-Whitewater looked like it was going to have a chance at tying the score late in the period. Morris got behind the Titan secondary for a 43-yard reception. The Warhawks then faced 4th-and-1 at the six-yard line, but Desmin Ward fumbled in the pile. Ryan Stefaniak (Jr. • Milwaukee) recovered the ball for UW-Oshkosh.
Following a punt by the Titans, UW-Whitewater got in scoring range. However, Eric Kindler's 45-yard field goal sailed wide left.
The Warhawks outgained the Titans, 226-27, during the third quarter. UW-Oshkosh finally responded with Wipperfurth's 40-yard catch early in the fourth. The two teams traded punts after that, but the Titans took over at UW-Whitewater's 39-yard line.
On the first play of the drive, the Warhawks brought a blitz. Wara was ready, flipping a screen pass to Myhra for a gain of 31. Myhra carried the ball on the next two snaps, pounding his way in from one yard for the game's final touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
The UW-Oshkosh defense forced four straight incomplete passes after facing first-and-goal in the closing minutes. The Titans then took a knee for their first victory in Whitewater since 1987. It was also just the fifth loss for the Warhawks in their last 82 games.
Both squads finished with 14 first downs, while UW-Oshkosh prevailed in total yards, 360-357, and the turnover battle (+3). The Titans converted 7-of-18 third downs, as the Warhawks went 6-for-18. UW-Whitewater had allowed just three passing touchdowns all season, but Wara matched that figure in the first half.
Wara compiled 217 yards with 16-of-24 passing. Zach Kasuboski (So. • Wautoma) posted seven receptions for 32 yards, while Voss marked three grabs for 76 yards. Myhra was the game's top rusher with 46 yards on 12 carries.
UW-Whitewater received 144 yards on nine catches from Morris. Behrendt hit on 18 of his 31 attempts for 271 yards and two scores. Nick Patterson topped his team with 44 yards on nine runs. Ward, the conference's second-ranked rusher, posted 26 yards on 11 carries.
UW-Oshkosh travels to UW-La Crosse next Saturday (Oct. 27).
By Jon Feyen