Titans crush Finlandia in home opener

Nathanial Brinkman

Nick August rushes past four Finlandia defenders to score in the Titans’ Sept. 12 victory. Walton was one of eight Titans to score in the 86-0 blowout.
[/media-credit] Nick August rushes past four Finlandia defenders to score in the Titans’ Sept. 12 victory. Walton was one of eight Titans to score in the 86-0 blowout.

The UW Oshkosh football team kicked off its home season with an 86-0 blowout victory Saturday, Sept. 15 over the Finlandia University Lions. This was just the Lions’ second game in program history as this is their first season with a football team. The 86-point outing set a record in terms of points scored for the Titans. UWO head coach Pat Cerroni said the lack of program tradition for Finlandia was not a factor in the preparation leading up to the game. “Honestly, we prepared for this game just like we would any other week,” Cerroni said. “We didn’t analyze much about their team and we were coming off of a loss, so we tried to correct the mistakes that we made in our first game.” The Lions received the ball in the opening kickoff and promptly fumbled on the one-yard line. The Titans then scored their first touchdown just nine seconds into the contest as starting running back Dylan Hecker punched the ball in on his first carry of the game. UWO continued to pour it on in the first quarter as Hecker rushed for another touchdown before quarterback Brett Kasper found wide receiver Sam Mentkowski streaking down the field for a 73-yard touchdown pass to end the quarter. Kasper went 6 for 9 for 187 yards and three touchdowns for the Titans before he was replaced in the second quarter with the Titans up 49-0 by Connor Senger. Senger went five for nine with 37 yards passing and added a 16-yard rushing touchdown while playing quarterback for the Titans. Kasper thought he had a good game but still thought there were still things he could have done better. “It felt great to air it out again however there were some balls I would’ve like to have back,” Kasper said. “I missed tight end Joe Sommers over the middle early in the game that looked to be a touchdown, and then Mentkowski’s touchdown was under thrown” By halftime, the Titans led the Lions by a score of 63-0. At this point, the once large crowd at Titan Stadium began to deplete. According to UWO freshman Ashley Meyer, the game was a bit too out of hand. “We left the game at halftime because the outcome was very predictable at that point,” Meyer said. “Overall, the game was a fun experience, though I really liked the crowd atmosphere, and I met some new people.” The Titans were especially dominant on the defensive end as the Lions were only able to put up 69 yards of total offense against the Titans, who also did not allow a single point to be scored and forced six turnovers. Defensive Back Johnny Eagan had two interceptions including an impressive 32- yard touchdown return. Cerroni said turnovers were a big part of why the Lions struggled in the game. “The turnovers definitely cost [Finlandia] because they gave us great field position with those turnovers, and we capitalized on the opportunities,” Cerroni said In total, 11 different UWO players scored touchdowns in the rout of the Lions including junior running back Nick August, who ran the ball ten times for 55 yards and a touchdown in what was his first career offensive action for the Titans. August said Saturday’s game was a great experience for him personally and was beneficial to the whole team as well. “It was a different experience coming in,” August said. “We knew they weren’t as strong as other teams we play given it is their first season as a program. Therefore I was preparing to play more offensive downs than I normally would.” August also said the game was a confidence builder for the entire team. “I felt very honored to be able to get a significant amount of playing time and to score a touchdown,” August said. One of the best parts of the game for August was something that happened after the game over social media. “After the game, my high school’s Twitter account mentioned me and Joe Sommers [another Titan football player who also attended Hortonville High School] in a tweet saying that we scored touchdowns in the game,” August said. “Having spent two seasons on the scout team and now finally making the team and playing offense,it was joyous to get that recognition.” Following the huge win Saturday, the Titans’ record is now 1-1. They lost 23-21 at Robert Morris to start the season on Sept. 5. The Titans play at home again this Saturday, Sept. 19 as they take on fellow NCAA Division III school North Park University. The Vikings are also 1-1 heading into Saturday’s game. According to Kasper, this will be a much closer match up. “On paper North Park and us are equal, we’re both 1-1, so we’re expecting another good football game as we had in week 1, with a different outcome,” Kasper said.