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Fourth-Quarter Surge Lifts Titans Past Division II Blue Tigers

Kyle Radavich ran for a first-quarter touchdown and threw for a fourth-quarter score as the Titans defeated the Division II Blue Tigers.
Kyle Radavich ran for a first-quarter touchdown and threw for a fourth-quarter score as the Titans defeated the Division II Blue Tigers.

Kyle Radavich ran for a 1-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive and threw a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Gerend early in the fourth quarter as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh football team pulled away for a 17-7 victory at NCAA Division II member Lincoln University of Missouri on Saturday (Sept. 15) in Jefferson City, Mo.

UW-Oshkosh (2-1), ranked 15th in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, secured its first win over an upper-division opponent since downing Division II's Upper Iowa University by scores of 33-21 in 2004 and 38-3 in 2003.

The Titans took a 7-0 lead after marching 85 yards in 14 plays while taking more than seven minutes off the clock on the first possession of the game. The drive culminated in Radavich's first collegiate touchdown.

Lincoln University (1-2), playing its home opener, answered with a game-tying touchdown midway through the second quarter, but UW-Oshkosh reclaimed the lead for good on Radavich's pass to Gerend in the back of the end zone. Titans placekicker Peyton Peterson later drilled a 34-yard field goal to cap the scoring with 5:31 remaining in the game.

The Blue Tigers held advantages in offensive yards (285-273), first downs (14-12) and time of possession (32:22 to 27:38) during a contest that featured 11 punts. However, UW-Oshkosh blocked both of Lincoln University's field goal attempts and controlled field position as Titans punter Turner Geisthardt averaged 46.8 yards on his six punts, which included five inside the Blue Tigers' 20-yard line.

Lincoln University, which was held to 4 yards on six plays during the first quarter, had a string of 20 consecutive offensive snaps in its own territory spanning the third and fourth periods.

Radavich concluded the contest 14 of 19 passing for 156 yards with his first career touchdown pass and zero interceptions. He completed his first nine passes during the opening quarter.

Riley Kallas caught six passes for 99 yards for the Titans, who also received four grabs for 26 yards from Dom Todarello.

Mitch Gerhartz led UW-Oshkosh with 17 carries for 55 yards. The balanced Titan rushing attack also featured seven carries for 24 yards from Todarello and six totes for 22 yards by JP Peerenboom. UW-Oshkosh ran the ball 36 times on its 55 offensive plays, gaining 122 yards on the ground against a Lincoln University defense that allowed just 32 first downs over its first two games.

Tory Jandrin paced the UW-Oshkosh defense, which has ceded just 23 points this season, with a season-high nine tackles. Brandon Hughes matched his career high with seven stops for the Titans while Cole Yoder also added seven tackles. Yoder, the Titans' leading tackler on the year, also notched his 14th career interception – eighth most in program history.

Derrick Jennings Jr., Tyler Staerkel and Brandon Kolgen all registered sacks for the Titan defense, which allowed just 4.5 yards per play against its Division II foe.

The Titans' scoring drive to begin the game featured 45 yards through the on 6-for-6 passing from Radavich, and Gerhartz and Peerenboom combining for 39 yards on seven carries ahead of Radavich's 1-yard run into the end zone.

The teams then exchanged punts on the four subsequent possession to end the first period as the Blue Tigers did not advance past their own 41-yard line during the opening quarter.

Lincoln University began the second quarter with a 15-play, 91-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Terry Hunter. The Tigers crossed midfield for the first time on Hunter's 7-yard rush to the Titan 44-yard line on the sixth play of the possession. Tigers quarterback Henry Ogala picked up a key first down with a 5-yard run to reach the UW-Oshkosh 17-yard line on a third-and-4 play. A 7-yard run by Hosea Franklin on a third-and-2 play preceded Hunter's run to the end zone.

The Blue Tigers recovered a Peerenboom fumble at the Titan 37-yard line with 6:12 remaining in the first half, but Jensen blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt by Lincoln College's Fernando Ramirez four plays later.

Following a UW-Oshkosh punt, the Blue Tigers once again advanced into UW-Oshkosh territory behind Ogala passes of 18 and 22 yards. However, on second-and-9 play from the Titan 39-yard line, Yoder intercepted an Ogala pass with 19 second to go before intermission.

Lincoln University recovered UW-Oshkosh's onside kick attempt at the Titan 47-yard line to open the second half. The Blue Tigers then ran the ball six straight times for 28 total yards to reach the UW-Oshkosh 19-yard line, but Jennings Jr. sacked Ogala to set up fourth-and-17 from the 25. UW-Oshkosh's Trenton LaCombe preserved the tie as he blocked Ramirez's 42-yard field goal attempt.

After the teams traded punts on the next three drives, UW-Oshkosh began the decisive possession at its own 28-yard line with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. Radavich hit a streaking Kallas for a 61-yard pass to reach the Lincoln University 5 on the first play of the fourth period. Following a 1-yard loss on the next play, Radavich fired his first career touchdown pass to Gerend on second down.

The Titans put the game away with a 10-play, 47-yard drive that ended with Peterson's 34-yard field goal. Gerhartz keyed the drive by gaining first downs on carries of 11 yards to reach midfield and 8 yards to advance the ball to the Blue Tigers 37-yard line.

Lincoln University answered with a long drive that reached the Titan 27-yard line, but a Kolgen sack of Ogala on first down preceded three consecutive incomplete passes by Ogala with less than two minutes to play.

Ogala went 13-for-22 passing for 134 yards with one interception.

Franklin had 19 carries for 116 yards for the Blue Tigers while Hunter added 10 rushes for 23 yards and a score. Franklin also led the team with five receptions for 24 yards.

Lincoln University's Edwin Durassaint led all players with 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. Amani Nelson chipped in nine tackles for the Blue Tigers.

UW-Oshkosh has won three of its six all-time games against upper-division NCAA opponents. The Titans suffered losses of 7-3 at Division II's Davenport University (Mich.) last Saturday (Sept. 8), 41-3 at Division I Football Bowl Subdivision member South Dakota State University in 2014 and 33-22 at Division II's Minnesota State University Mankato in 2006.

The Titans, who play their first five games of the season on the road, are idle until heading to UW-River Falls for the WIAC opener on Sept. 29.