Titans’ third-string quarterback throws 2 touchdowns in first start

Nate Proell

Barbara Bass and Trenton Coleman accepting their crowns during the Homecoming game.
[/media-credit] Barbara Bass and Trenton Coleman accepting their crowns during the Homecoming game.

The fifth-ranked UW Oshkosh Titans’ football team extended its record to 5-1 after a 21-10 Homecoming win over the UW-Stevens Point Pointers on Oct. 17. The Titans and the Pointers are the oldest rivalry in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The game was the 114th meeting between the two teams in a series that began in 1896. With the win, the Titans have beaten Pointers five times in a row. The Titans have won five consecutive games since their season opener, which was a loss against NAIA program Robert Morris University to a score of 23-21. This is also the fifth straight season that the Titans have gone 3-0 in league play. The game got off to a slow start offensively for the Titans. Third-string quarterback Jayden Essman had 13 total passing yards and two interceptions by the end of the first half. This was Essman’s first career start for the Titans. The Pointers are the highest scoring team in the conference, averaging 45.6 points per game. However, the defense kept the Titans in the game by limiting the Pointers to 36 total offensive plays and 117 total offensive yards in the first half. The game was tied 0-0 at the half. The Titans’ defense leads the WIAC. They are ranked sixth in all of Division III and their 11 fumble recoveries is 10th. “It was a great defensive effort,” head coach Pat Cerroni said. “It was a great effort, and they really played like champions.” Near the start of the second half, the Pointers scored their only touchdown of the game with a 36-yard pass from quarterback Matt Sosinsky. However, the Titans were ready to counter. A two-yard touchdown run from Titans’ running back Dylan Hecker tied the game 7-7. A 31-yard field goal from kicker Jesse Vervelde put the Pointers back on top by the end of the third quarter with a score of 10-7. However, that was the last scoring play that the Pointers had for the game. Near the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Titans struck again with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Essman to wide receiver Zach Kasuboski, putting the Titans up with a score of 14-10. The Titans’ final scoring play of the game came with 12:55 left in the game. Essman completed a 74-yard pass to wide receiver Sam Mentkowski, which gave the Titans the lead, and eventual win, with a score of 21-10. “I think [Essman] played very well,” Mentkowski said. “For coming in his first career start, it’s obviously nerve wracking. I think he stayed composed and played very well.” Cerroni said Essman did what the team needed him to do against a good defensive game plan. “He did an adequate job,” Cerroni said. “I think Stevens Point did a great job with their game plan…Fortunately the defense kept us in the game and then once [Essman] got his groove in the second half, he made one nice pass, and in a game like that, that’s all you have to do.” Essman said he performed well in his first career start. “It went pretty well,” Essman said. “We had a rough first half. The team was all up for it. They were behind me 100 percent, so that was nice.” The Titans look to keep the five-game winning streak going as they take on UW-Platteville next Saturday. The Pioneers are 5-1, just like the Titans. Platteville is also 2-1 in conference play, undefeated at home this season and riding a two-game winning streak. “We know that we are getting better,” Essman said. “We believe that only we can stop ourselves.”