Brett Kasper threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score in one half of action as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh football team cruised to a 74-7 home-opening victory over Virginia University of Lynchburg on Saturday (Sept. 9) at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
Ten different Titans scored touchdowns while UW-Oshkosh rolled up a 498-194 advantage in total yards, including 269-70 rushing. The Titans scored five touchdowns on the ground, four through the air and one on a punt return. UW-Oshkosh, which surpassed 70 points for the third time in the past three seasons, also tallied a field goal before capping the scoring with a safety.
UW-Oshkosh (2-0), ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, held a 41-0 lead at intermission and limited Virginia University of Lynchburg (0-3) to just two first downs during the second half.
Kasper completed 14 of 16 passes for 205 yards and rushed twice for 12 yards, including an 18-yard scamper into the end zone for his second career rushing score that extended the Titan advantage to 41-0 with 2:08 left in the second quarter. He notched his 11th game with at least three touchdown passes.
Titans backup quarterback Jayden Essman connected on all five of his passes for 24 yards and a score.
JP Peerenboom led the UW-Oshkosh backfield with 14 carries for a career-best 100 yards and his first career touchdown.
Chad Walton added nine rushes for 64 yards and one score as the Titans averaged 5.1 yards on 53 totes by 11 ball carriers. Beau Ash and Johnny Duranso both contributed rushing touchdowns for UW-Oshkosh. Walton tallied his sixth career rushing touchdown while Ash scored his fourth and Duranso his first.
Jacob Grant and Sam Mentkowski paced the Titans with four receptions apiece. Mentkowski had a team-leading 72 yards receiving and a touchdown while Mitchell Gerend, Riley Kallas and Chad Redmer each registered touchdown catches. Mentkowski now has 15 career touchdown catches, Kallas and Redmer two, and Gerend scored his first collegiate touchdown.
The UW-Oshkosh defense, which yielded just 10 first downs, recorded two interceptions and recovered a pair of fumbles.
Taylor Ripplinger led the Titans with five tackles while Chris Bednarski and Jon Kallas chipped in four apiece. Trenton LaCombe had a fumble recovery and one sack, Calvin Shilling recovered a fumble, and Rajon Hall and Derrick Jennings Jr. snared interceptions.
After the Titans' opening drive resulted in a fumble, UW-Oshkosh scored touchdowns on its next seven possessions. The Titans' ninth drive resulted in a field goal before they reached the end zone again on their two ensuing drives.
The UW-Oshkosh onslaught began with a 41-yard scoring strike from Kasper to Mentkowski with 6:37 to go in the first quarter. Kasper then connected with Riley Kallas for a 4-yard touchdown pass on the opening play of the second period.
Kasper then found Redmer for a 28-yard touchdown pass for a 20-0 lead at the 12:30 mark of the second quarter.
Peerenboom rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to extend the UW-Oshkosh advantage to 27-0, and Dom Todarello returned a punt 61 yards for a score to up the Titan lead to 34-0 with 5:09 left before halftime. Todarello also had an 87-yard punt return for a score last year at Finlandia University (Mich.).
Kasper's 18-yard rushing score with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter provided the Titans a 41-0 cushion.
Ash plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out to increase the UW-Oshkosh lead to 48-0 late in the third quarter, and Walton raced for a 12-yard scoring run for a 55-0 advantage with 1:36 to go in the third period.
The Dragons broke up the shutout early in the fourth quarter as quarterback Thomas Jones rushed for a 2-yard touchdown. He concluded the game with a team-leading 11 carries for 33 yards while connecting on 13 of 27 passes for 124 yards with two interceptions.
Titans placekicker Turner Geisthardt, who converted all seven of his extra-point tries, nailed a field goal from 23 yards to make the score 58-7.
UW-Oshkosh then capped the scoring on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Essman to Gerend, a 1-yard touchdown run from Duranso and a safety.
Trailing 72-7, Dragons running back Jemelle Clegg fumbled on his lone carry of the game in the Dragons end zone after a 5-yard loss. Clegg collected his own fumble, but UW-Oshkosh's Tyler Watson tackled Clegg in the end zone for a safety with 2:42 to play.
UW-Oshkosh, which converted nine of 11 third-down opportunities, punted just once. After regaining possession at their own 40-yard line with 2:42 remaining, the Titans took a knee on three consecutive snaps before Peyton Peterson launched a 48-yard punt to the Dragons' 15.
Dragons wide receiver Kevin McBride led all players with seven catches for 43 yards.
Derwin Whitt's eight tackles led the Virginia University of Lynchburg defense. John Templar and Deandrey Johnson both made seven stops for the Dragons while Tarrence Ames and Timothy Edwards recorded fumble recoveries.
Virginia University of Lynchburg has been outscored, 512-108, over its last 10 games.
The UW-Oshkosh record for points in a game is 86, established during an 86-0 triumph over Finlandia University in 2015. The Titans, who are averaging 39.8 points during their past 32 games, also produced a 77-0 victory at Morthland College (Ill.) last season.
UW-Oshkosh returns to action Sept. 30, when it hosts UW-Whitewater at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.