The UW-Stevens Point football team turned four interceptions into 17 points as the Pointers ended a seven-game losing streak to nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh with a 27-21 victory Saturday (Oct. 27) in Stevens Point.
UW-Stevens Point (3-5, 2-3 WIAC) took the lead for good at 17-14 on a 48-yard field goal by Victor Ponterio with 12:17 remaining in the third period. A 22-yard field goal from Ponterio extended the Pointer advantage to 20-14 at the 14:20 mark of the fourth quarter, and Sam Shafer returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown that increased their lead to 27-14 with 13:42 to go.
UW-Oshkosh (5-3, 3-2 WIAC) cut its deficit to 27-21 with 11:17 to play following a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Radavich to Mitchell Gerend. However, the Titans' final two drives of the game resulted in a turnover on downs at the UW-Stevens Point 29-yard line with 2:15 to go and an interception on a second-and-1 play from the Pointer 34-yard line with 13 seconds remaining.
The Titans, ranked 10th in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, built a 14-6 lead early in the second quarter following Radavich's second touchdown pass to Riley Kallas. UW-Stevens Point knotted the score at 14 on a 1-yard touchdown run by ShamJ Williams and a two-point conversion run from Christian Almonte with 1:40 to go before intermission.
The Titans finished the game with advantages in scrimmage yards (376-254), passing yards (269-164), rushing yards (107-90) and first downs (20-14), but UW-Oshkosh committed four turnovers to UW-Stevens Point's one, and the Titans missed a pair of field goal from less than 30 yards. UW-Oshkosh had not committed a turnover in its previous three games.
UW-Stevens Point earned its first win over UW-Oshkosh since a 41-17 decision on Oct. 9, 2010, in Stevens Point.
Pointers quarterback Max Herro went 14-for-20 passing for 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed 13 times for 36 yards.
Williams rushed for 42 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries for UW-Stevens Point, which also received eight catches for 71 yards from Almonte, and four grabs for 61 yards and a score by Steve Herra.
UW-Stevens Point's Ryan Strick led all players with 14 tackles, including one of the Pointers' four sacks. Boyd Delebreau collected a pair of sacks among his seven tackles for the Pointers.
Omarri Johnson snared two interceptions, and Shafer and O.J. James both picked off one pass for UW-Stevens Point.
Radavich completed 23 of 37 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. He entered the contest with just one interception on the year.
JP Peerenboom paced the Titans with a season-best 14 carries for 57 yards while Riley Kallas had a career-high 11 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Gerend finished with seven catches for a career-best 100 yards.
Derrick Jennings Jr. spearheaded the UW-Oshkosh defense with 10 tackles, including three for loss. Logan Heise chipped in eight tackles and 1.5 of the team's four sacks. Calvin Shilling notched an interception for the Titans.
After forcing a Pointer punt on the opening possession of the game, UW-Oshkosh marched 65 yards in six plays, culminating in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Radavich to Kallas with 11:09 to go in the first quarter.
UW-Stevens Point answered quickly with a 34-yard scoring pass of its own as Herro hit Herra. Ponterio missed the ensuing extra point try, allowing the Titans to maintain a 7-6 edge with 7:21 left in the opening period.
UW-Oshkosh was looking to extend its lead on the next drive, but the Titans' 13-play possession stalled at the Pointer 12-yard line before Peyton Peterson missed a 29-yard field goal.
Shilling picked off a Herro pass deep in Titan territory and returned the ball 36 yards to the Pointers' 45-yard line. UW-Oshkosh cashed in the turnover seven plays later on Radavich's second scoring strike to Kallas – this one for 5 yards – to up the Titan lead to 14-6 after Peterson's extra point wat the 10:54 mark of the second quarter.
Johnson intercepted Radavich on the next UW-Oshkosh possession. Johnson returned the turnover 41 yards to the Titans' 28-yard line, and and the Pointers pulled even on Williams' short touchdown run and Almonte's two-point conversion. The UW-Stevens Point drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on the Titans on a third-and-9 play from the UW-Oshkosh 12-yard line.
Johnson collected his second interception on the first Titan possession of the second half. His 28-yard return set up the Pointers with a first down at the UW-Oshkosh 28-yard line before Ponterio drilled his go-ahead 48-yard field goal.
After the teams exchanged punts on the next two possessions, Peterson missed a potential game-tying 26-yard field goal with 5:50 to go in the third period. Ponterio then converted a field goal from 22 yards to conclude a 12-play, 75-yard drive by the Pointers, and Shafer returned the Pointers' third interception of the game for a 42-yard touchdown 38 seconds later.
Gerend hauled in Radavich's pass for a 5-yard touchdown to pull the Titans within 27-21, but UW-Oshkosh came up empty the rest of the way despite running eight of its last 14 plays in Pointer territory over the final six minutes. O.J. James sealed the Pointer win by snaring the team's fourth and final interception at the UW-Stevens Point 14-yard line with 13 seconds remaining. Radavich had completed each of his four passes for a total of 34 yards on the final drive until James stepped in front of the second-and-1 pass to secure the victory.
Saturday's meeting was the 118th in the longest running rivalry in the WIAC.
UW-Oshkosh travels to UW-Eau Claire next Saturday (Nov. 3).
Photo courtesy of Mike Thacker