UW-Oshkosh ran for 413 yards while dominating the final 52 minutes of a 55-10 victory over The College of St. Scholastica (Minn.) in a first-round game of the NCAA Division III Championship held Saturday (Nov. 17) at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
The Titans (11-0), ranked fifth by D3football.com, now own the longest active winning streak in the NCAA Division III at 13 games. UW-Oshkosh will play Bethel University (Minn.) in the second round next Saturday (Nov. 24).
On their first three possessions of the game, the Titans punted, fumbled and got intercepted. UW-Oshkosh then scored touchdowns on eight of its next 10 drives. The 413 yards on the ground featured a career-high 198 on 25 carries from Cole Myhra (Jr. • Menomonee Falls) and 128 yards on 12 attempts by Nate Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh). St. Scholastica entered the game allowing just 88 rushing yards per contest.
The Titans, who recently had a stretch of seven games without a turnover, were intercepted by Tyler Zurn on a deflection early in the contest. Mike Theismann turned that position into a 44-yard field goal, the longest in St. Scholastica (8-3) history.
UW-Oshkosh's next offensive play was a nine-yard run, but Myhra had the ball knocked out while fighting for extra yardage. The Saints cashed in with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Harper to Nick Thiry on a corner route. The visiting UMAC tri-champions held a 10-0 lead with 7:54 left in the first quarter.
Running on nine straight plays, the Titans put together a response. Wara broke free for consecutive gains of 29 and 13 yards. On third down, Myhra took a screen pass 12 yards down the sideline and snuck inside the pylon for a touchdown.
The Titan defense got a stop on fourth down to set up another score. Caleb Voss (Jr. • Van Dyne) ran a post pattern and Wara hit him for a 46-yard touchdown. Wara went over 8,000 career passing yards on the bomb, making him the ninth WIAC player to reach the milestone. Two minutes later, Zach Kasuboski (So. • Wautoma) hauled in a tipped pass for a 23-yard touchdown that gave UW-Oshkosh a 20-10 cushion.
Myhra started the next scoring march with a nine-yard run. From midfield, he shrugged off a few tacklers and bolted for a gain of 35. Myhra finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run at the 7:09 mark of the second quarter.
A crazy play helped UW-Oshkosh increase its lead to 34-10. The Saints' Chris Gassert fumbled at his own 26-yard line when hit by Andrew Thompson (Sr. • Greendale). Taylor Goodman (Sr. • South Wayne) picked up the football and ran to the 12, where he had it knocked out. Nick Jolin (Sr. • Three Lakes) caught the ball out of the air and took it the final 12 yards for a Titan touchdown.
Nate Ray (So. • Verona) lined up a 37-yard field goal try before halftime, but he missed to the left. It was the first miss of the season for Ray, who had converted 13 straight attempts. Wara also had his streak of 192 passes without an interception end during the first quarter.
UW-Oshkosh forced a punt to begin the third period. Wara then hooked up with Voss for passes of 29 and 20 yards. Jake Dostalek (Jr. • Waterford) capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
Wara had a 56-yard run on a scramble late in the third quarter to set up Myhra's one-yard score. The Titans later had a 16-play drive that used 8:40 of clock in the fourth quarter. Myhra found the end zone for a fourth time on his one-yard run with 4:27 remaining.
UW-Oshkosh totaled 600 yards of offense, hitting that mark for the fourth time this season. The Titans compiled 28 first downs and succeeded on 12-of-17 third down opportunities (71 percent). St. Scholastica recorded 243 total yards and converted 4-of-15 third downs (27 percent).
Wara booked three touchdowns to go with 11-of-23 passing for 187 yards. Voss led all players with 106 receiving yards on four catches. The Titans also benefited from 74 yards on 18 carries by Dostalek.
St. Scholastica used 174 passing yards from Harper and 59 rushing yards (16 carries) from Jake Jensen. Gebhard topped the receiving group with four grabs for 73 yards.
The Titan defense allowed just 2.6 yards per rush while forcing the Saints into 42 percent passing (14-33). Ryan Stefaniak (Jr. • Milwaukee) posted eight tackles, including four for loss with one sack. The Saints' defense was highlighted by 10 tackles from Alec French and nine by Blake Cedarleaf.
By Jon Feyen