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Titans, Pointers Renew WIAC’s Longest Rivalry

Titans, Pointers Renew WIAC’s Longest Rivalry

The 118th edition of the longest WIAC football rivalry will be renewed when nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh visits UW-Stevens Point on Saturday (Oct. 27). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Community Stadium at Goerke Park in Stevens Point.

UW-Oshkosh (5-2, 3-1 WIAC), ranked 10th in the NCAA Division III by, is seeking its eighth consecutive victory over the Pointers. The Titans, who defeated UW-Stevens Point by a 49-14 score last season in Oshkosh, last suffered a loss to the Pointers in 2010. UW-Oshkosh has outscored UW-Stevens Point, 233-109, over the past seven meetings.

UW-Stevens Point (2-5, 1-3 WIAC) owns a 59-49-8 record in the series that began in 1896. The Pointers, who lost 10 straight matchups against the Titans from 1967-76, compiled a series-record 12-game winning streak between 1988-99. The rivalry is also the longest between two NCAA Division III public schools.

The defending WIAC champion Titans enter Saturday's meeting among the top 10 teams in the country for the fourth time this season and 37th time in the past 42 weekly polls. UW-Oshkosh, which has been ranked nationally in each of the past 50 polls, boasts a 43-5 record during its last 48 WIAC contests.

UW-Stevens Point is vying for its third victory over its last 13 league games. The Pointers have won one WIAC home contest during the past two seasons.

UW-Oshkosh opened the season with five consecutive road games, claiming wins of 20-9 over Carthage College in the opener on Sept. 1, 17-7 over Lincoln University of Missouri on Sept. 15 and 48-14 over UW-River Falls on Sept. 29. UW-Oshkosh's win against NCAA Division II's Lincoln University of Missouri was the program's first against an upper-division opponent since 2004.

The Titans also suffered road losses by scores of 7-3 at NCAA Division II member Davenport University (Mich.) on Sept. 8 and 20-0 at eighth-ranked UW-Whitewater on Oct. 6 before securing home wins of 31-10 over UW-Platteville on Oct. 13 and UW-La Crosse last Saturday (Oct. 20).

UW-Oshkosh is averaging 20.4 points and 299.1 yards per game while surrendering 11.4 points and 305.7 points per contest. The Titans, who own a 5-0 record when scoring more than seven points, have dominated the start of halves, allowing just seven points during both the first and third quarters this season.

The Titans lead the Division III with 16 interceptions on the year and list fifth nationally with a +1.56 average turnover margin. UW-Oshkosh also paces the conference in interceptions thrown (3), third down defense (.316) and red zone defense (.524). The Titans' 16 interceptions are tied with Division II's Edinboro University (Pa.) for the most by any NCAA program this season.

UW-Stevens Point began the year with non-conference losses of 45-21 to visiting John Carroll University (Ohio) in the opener Sept. 1 and 16-13 at Wabash College (Ind.) on Sept. 8. The Pointers entered the win column with their 51-38 home decision over NAIA member Dakota State University (S.D.) on Sept. 15. UW-Stevens Point then lost, 20-6, to visiting UW-Platteville on Sept. 29 and slipped past host UW-Eau Claire, 9-3, on Oct. 6 before falling by scores of 63-27 at UW-La Crosse on Oct. 13 and 31-27 at home to UW-Stout last Saturday.

UW-Stevens Point averages 22 points and 323.7 yards per game while yielding 29.4 points and 425 yards per contest. The Pointers average a WIAC-best 23.38 yards per kickoff return and have scored a league-leading three defensive touchdowns, but they also rank 229th among the 247 Division III teams with 10 fumbles lost and 221st with 3.57 sacks allowed per game.

UW-Oshkosh sophomore Kyle Radavich has completed 100 of 169 passes for 1,147 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception. His .592 completion percentage leads the WIAC.

Three Titans have rushed for more than 100 yards on the season, including junior Mitch Gerhartz with a team-high 127 carries for 488 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Dom Todarello has added 221 rushing yards and one score on 37 totes while junior JP Peerenboom has chipped in 32 carries for 101 yards.

UW-Oshkosh junior Riley Kallas has hauled in a team-leading 28 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Todarello has contributed 25 catches for a team-best 386 yards and three scores. Sophomore Mitchell Gerend has 22 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Todarello also headlines the team's return efforts, averaging 24.6 yards on eight kickoff returns and 9.6 yards on eight punt returns.

UW-Oshkosh is averaging 131 yards rushing per contest and scored seven touchdowns on the ground behind a starting offensive line comprised of seniors Cody Moon, Tyler Powers, Austin Summers, Alex Wendorf and Jason Wright and junior Alex Wipperfurth. The unit has combined to allow just 12 sacks on the year.

The Titans' highly rated defense is highlighted by a trio of seniors in linebackers Derrick Jennings Jr. and Scott Skornicka, and defensive back Cole Yoder.

Yoder has a squad-high 49 tackles and shares the team lead with four interceptions with Jennings Jr., who has recorded 39 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks, and ranks fourth in the country with three blocked kicks. Yoder's and Jennings Jr.'s 0.6 interceptions per game are best in the conference.

Skornicka has registered 37 tackles, including seven for loss.

UW-Oshkosh junior Jake Murphy has notched 2.5 of the team's 16 sacks this season while freshmen Brandon Kolgen and Tyler Staerkel have both contributed two apiece. Staerkel and junior Calvin Shilling have both snared a pair of interceptions. Senior AJ Plewa leads the Titan defense with seven pass breakups.

UW-Oshkosh junior Payton Peterson has converted 6 of 8 field goals, including a long of 39 yards, and each of his 17 extra points. His .750 field goal percentage tops the WIAC.

Senior Turner Geisthardt is averaging 38.8 yards on his 47 punts, which have included a long of 58 yards and 16 inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He became the program's all-time leader in punting yards earlier this season.

Junior Matt Urmanski leads the UW-Stevens Point offense, completing 89 of 164 passes for 1,033 yards and seven touchdowns with nine interceptions. He has added 107 rushing yards and one score on the ground this year.

The Pointers' ground attack is spearheaded by sophomores Zach Bosek and ShamaJ Williams for an offense that is averaging 102 rushing yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry. Bosek has a team-high 47 rushes for 233 yards and one touchdown while Williams has logged 38 carries for 163 yards and a pair of scores.

UW-Stevens Point senior Steve Herra has a team-leading 37 pass receptions for 457 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Christian Almonte enters Saturday with 20 catches for 283 yards and three scores for the Pointers while sophomore Jahi Stigall has 18 grabs for 205 yards and three of the squad's nine touchdowns through the air. Almonte, who is averaging 28.5 yards on 15 kickoff returns, has returned a division-leading two kickoffs for touchdowns this season.

The Pointer defense, which allows 4.1 yards per carry and 175.3 rushing yards per game, is led by senior Ryan Strick's 80 tackles.

UW-Stevens Point's defensive leaders also include seven tackles for loss and three sacks from senior Boyd Delebreau and three interceptions by senior Omarri Johnson. The Pointers have collected 10 interceptions, nine sacks and five fumble recoveries on the year.

Pointers freshman Victor Ponterio has connected on 6 of 9 field goals, including a long of 43 yards, and 14 of 17 extra points. UW-Stevens Point freshman Sam Bliese has punted 44 times for a 35.4-yard average, including a long of 55 yards and nine inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

UW-Oshkosh has claimed three of the last six conference crowns. The Titans went on to play in the program's first national championship game in 2016 and reached the semifinal round of the Division III Championship last season. UW-Oshkosh also advanced to the semifinals in 2012 and to the quarterfinals in 2015.

Pat Cerroni has guided UW-Oshkosh to a 94-37 record during his 12 seasons as head coach of the Titans. Greg Breitbach is in his first season as UW-Stevens Point's head coach.