Steven Makinen passed for 283 yards and a touchdown, Joe Franks ran for two scores and the UW-Oshkosh football team never trailed en route to a 27-13 victory over UW-Stout in the season finale for both teams Saturday (Nov. 10) at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
The Titans scored 21 unanswered points to reclaim a 27-6 advantage with 4:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. A 1-yard touchdown run by Franks and an extra point from Peyton Peterson gave UW-Oshkosh the lead for good at 13-6 with 1:22 left in the second period. The Titans tacked on a 2-yard touchdown via a shovel pass from Makinen to Dom Todarello for a 20-6 lead midway through the fourth quarter and a 1-yard touchdown run by Franks to up their advantage to 27-6.
Three of the Titans' four touchdown drives were set up by turnovers as UW-Oshkosh collected a pair of interceptions and recovered one fumble. UW-Oshkosh entered Saturday's game ranked fifth in the NCAA Division III with 17 interceptions on the year.
UW-Oshkosh (6-4, 4-3 WIAC), which earned its 10th consecutive win over the Blue Devils, finished the year with a winning record for the eighth straight season. The Titans, who have also won 21 straight regular season home games, placed third in the final conference standings behind champion UW-Whitewater and second-place UW-La Crosse. UW-Stout (5-5, 3-4 WIAC) ended in a tie for fourth place.
UW-Oshkosh concluded the contest with a 407-354 advantage in yards and a 3-2 edge in turnovers while UW-Stout had a 26-19 lead in first downs. The Blue Devils went just 2 of 13 on third down conversions and the Titans 5 of 15.
Makinen, who went into the game with one career completion for 3 yards, completed 18 of 26 passes and tossed his first touchdown after entering the contest early in the second quarter. UW-Oshkosh gained 351 of its 407 yards and scored all but six of its points with Makinen under center.
Franks registered a career-high 56 rushing yards on 17 carries. He entered the game with two rushes for 26 yards and a score on the year.
Todarello finished the day with a career-high eight receptions for 94 yards and his fourth score of the year and the 18th of his career. UW-Oshkosh's Riley Kallas hauled in five catches for 100 yards for his third 100-yard receiving effort of the season.
Scott Skornicka led the UW-Oshkosh defense with nine tackles and a forced fumble. Brandon Hughes added six tackles, including one of the Titans' two sacks, while Kollyn Beyer and AJ Plewa recorded interceptions.
Skornicka forced a fumble by UW-Stout quarterback Sean Borgerding on the game's opening drive. UW-Oshkosh's Nick Boyd pounced on the loose ball at the UW-Stout 45-yard line, and the Titans cashed in the turnover six plays later on a 5-yard touchdown run by Peerenboom on a fourth-and-1 play. UW-Stout blocked the ensuing extra point attempt to keep its deficit at 6-0 with 10:20 remaining in the first quarter.
UW-Stout's Drew Pearson later converted field goals from 30 and 34 yards to tie the score at 6 with 7:43 left in the second period.
UW-Oshkosh got the ball back at its own 45-yard line with 4:04 to play in the first half following the Blue Devils' third punt of the contest. Makinen hit Mitchell Gerend with a 31-yard pass to reach the UW-Stout 21-yard line, and another Makinen pass to Todarello gained 11 yards to set up a first down at the Blue Devils' 7-yard line. Franks had a 6-yard carry down to the 1-yard line before plowing into the end zone on the next play. Peterson's extra point provided the Titans a 13-6 lead with 1:22 to go in the second quarter.
The Blue Devils trailed by seven points at intermission despite outgaining the Titans, 154-111, and possessing the ball for more than 17 minutes over the first two periods.
UW-Stout took the opening kickoff of the second half 65 yards in seven plays, but the drive culminated in Peterson missing a 27-yard field goal.
The last three drives of the third quarter resulted in punts by both teams and an interception in the end zone by UW-Stout's Kierre Rhodes on a UW-Oshkosh fourth-and-21 play from the Blue Devil 32-yard line.
UW-Stout stopped Peerenboom for no gain on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the Blue Devils' ensuing nine-play drive stalled at their own 45.
Beyer later stepped in front of a Borgerding pass and returned the interception 22 yards down to the UW-Stout 39-yard line with 10:10 left to play in the game. Makinen proceeded to complete 4 of 6 passes for 27 yards on the resulting drive that was capped by a his 2-yard touchdown on a shovel pass to Todarello with 7:15 left.
The Titans then effectively iced the victory two plays later as Plewa picked off a Borgerding pass and returned the interception 9 yards to the Blue Devil 35-yard line with 6:46 to play. Makinen completed a 27-yard pass to Cody Moon to reach the UW-Stout 2-yard line, and Franks found the end zone two plays later after a pair of 1-yard runs.
UW-Stout capped the scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run by Josh Nitek at the 3:06 mark of the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils then attempted an onside kick, but UW-Oshkosh's Derrick Jennings Jr. secured the win by catching the kick as he was falling out of bounds.
The Blue Devils' Borgerding finished the game 22-for-43 passing for 215 yards with two interceptions.
Rayshawn Graham paced UW-Stout with 56 rushing yards on 13 carries. Nitek had a team-high 15 rushes for 53 yards and a score.
Parker Fossum and Levy Hamer combined for 15 catches for 139 yards for the Blue Devils. Fossum had eight grabs for 77 yards while Hamer, the WIAC leader in catches and receiving yards, had seven receptions for 62 yards.
UW-Stout's Luke Wilz and Levi Wolf led all players with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
Photo courtesy of Steve Frommell, D3Photography.com