Cole Myhra (Jr. • Menomonee Falls) and Caleb Voss (Jr. • Van Dyne) combined for five touchdowns in UW-Oshkosh's 37-14 playoff win over Bethel University (Minn.) on Saturday (Nov. 24) at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
The Titans (12-0) will take their 14-game win streak to #3 Linfield College (Ore.) next Saturday (Dec. 1) in a national quarterfinal game of the NCAA Division III Championship. Linfield defeated #14 North Central College (Ill.) by a score of 30-14.
Just like last week, UW-Oshkosh fell behind early. The Royals (9-3) took a 14-0 lead on Mitch Hallstrom's fourth-down touchdown grab with 9:33 left in the second quarter. The Titans, who tallied 55 unanswered points against St. Scholastica on Nov. 17, then shut out Bethel for the last 39 minutes.
On Bethel's second drive of the game, Erik Peterson found Hallstrom for a gain of 31 yards. Then on 3rd-and-11, Hallstrom went in motion and caught Peterson's pass in stride for a 55-yard touchdown.
UW-Oshkosh's first five possessions of the contest ended with three punts and two interceptions. The second turnover was a pass off the receiver's hands that David Morgan snatched in the end zone.
The Royals drove to the two-yard line and decided to go for it on fourth down. Hallstrom went in motion again and got open on a crossing route to make it 14-0.
"We're very unemotional, and that's probably because of me," UW-Oshkosh coach Pat Cerroni said. "We stay very even-keeled."
The Titans needed a big play to change the momentum, and Ryan Stefaniak (Jr. • Milwaukee) provided it during the final two minutes of the half. He stepped in front of a Bethel pass and returned it 23 yards into scoring range.
"I didn't get the play call," Stefaniak said. Coach Cerroni added that Stefaniak was supposed to blitz on that down.
On the next play, Myhra sprinted up the middle for 25 yards. He plunged into the end zone from one yard out to make it a 14-7 deficit at halftime.
Bethel had outscored its foes, 115-10, in the third quarter this season, but UW-Oshkosh posted a 21-0 margin in the period today. The Titans' opening drive went 73 yards, including a 15-yard scramble on 3rd-and-10 by Nate Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh). Myhra capped the march with a three-yard run to tie the score at 14.
Wara and Voss connected on the next two drives to put the game out of reach. On the first score, Voss caught an out route, spun away from a defender and bolted 36 yards for the touchdown. Voss then ran an out-and-up, and Wara tossed a perfect 27-yard rainbow in the corner of the end zone to give the Titans a 28-14 cushion with 4:03 on the third-quarter clock.
UW-Oshkosh's first series of the fourth covered 66 yards in six plays. Zach Kasuboski (So. • Wautoma) took a swing pass and ran 31 yards down the sideline. Then at the 16, Wara got the shotgun snap and pitched forward to Myhra. Cutting across the field, Myhra broke a tackle at the 5 and crossed the goal line for his third touchdown of the day.
The game's final score came when Stefaniak and Taylor Goodman (Sr. • South Wayne) trapped the Bethel tailback for a safety. Stefaniak finished with a game-high 13 tackles, while Goodman added 10 stops. The Royals were led by 12 tackles from Morgan and 10 from Seth Mathis.
UW-Oshkosh, ranked fifth by D3football.com, totaled 462 offensive yards. The Titans dominated the second half with advantages of 344-74 in yardage and 18-4 in first downs. Tim Filter (Sr. • New Berlin) and Zach Wettengel (Sr. • Appleton) also had interceptions for the defense.
Myhra broke 140 rushing yards for the fifth straight game, compiling 177 on 26 carries. Wara finished 18-of-27 through the air for 232 yards, as Voss grabbed six balls for 93 yards.
Bethel, concluding its seventh postseason appearance, totaled 300 yards. The Royals mustered just 28 yards on the ground, as Marshall Klitzke recorded 19 yards on 16 carries. Hallstrom caught nine passes (one in the second half) for 133 yards, while Peterson completed 21-of-32 throws for 272 yards.
By Jon Feyen