The Advance-Titan

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UWO senior wide receiver Sam Mentkowski hauls in a pass from quarterback Brett Kasper against UW-Whitewater. This catch resulted in a 96-yard touchdown, which is the longest play in Titan football history. Alicia Kahl | The Advance-Titan

UWO senior wide receiver Sam Mentkowski hauls in a pass from quarterback Brett Kasper against UW-Whitewater. This catch resulted in a 96-yard touchdown, which is the longest play in Titan football history.

After having a two-week bye, the UW Oshkosh Titans football team improved its overall record to 3-0 after defeating the UW-Whitewater Warhawks in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener by a score of 37-20 on Saturday.

Senior quarterback Brett Kasper led the way for the Titans as he had a season high of 339 yards of total passing and three touchdowns. In every quarter the Titans had at least 100 more yards of total offense than the Warhawks.

This is the first UWO victory over Whitewater in two years. In that victory, Kasper suffered an injury in the first quarter and did not play for the remainder of the game. It is because of that Kasper says beating Whitewater was at the top of his list, especially since this is his senior year.

“Personally, it was a big thing that I wanted to do was just beat Whitewater,” Kasper said. “The last time we beat them, I got hurt in the first quarter, and I really couldn’t say that was my win. It was a big goal that I wanted to check off, just beating them, and we did that.”

In a game where UWO had the lead the entire time, the Titans began their victory by winning the coin toss and electing to defer.

The Warhawks started their opening drive by going five yards in three plays before being forced to punt the ball.

Mentkowski and his teammates celebrate his 96-yard score in the first quarter against the Warhawks. On the day, Mentkowski had 10 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns.Alicia Kahl | The Advance-Titan

Mentkowski and his teammates celebrate his 96-yard score in the first quarter against the Warhawks. On the day, Mentkowski had 10 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns.

The Titans’ opening drive began on their own 28-yard line, from which they were able to bring to the Warhawk 17-yard line before missing a field goal attempt. The drive went 55 yards in 11 plays and included a 22-yard rush from senior running back Dylan Hecker.

Hecker said he is happy with the high-energy way the team performed despite going two weeks without facing an opponent.

“It felt great to go out there and compete against somebody again,” Hecker said. “I’m glad it was against a good team. I think we got a lot of confidence out of that. It feels good. We’ve got depth everywhere.”

Titans forced the Warhawks to punt yet again on their second drive, which put UWO on its own 2-yard line.

Despite starting with 98 yards to the end zone, the Titans drive resulted in their first touchdown of the game after a 96-yard touchdown pass from Kasper to senior wide receiver Sam Mentkowski.

Kasper’s 96-yard touchdown pass is the eighth-longest in WIAC history and the longest of both Kasper’s career and the history of the University.

After the extra point, the Titans were up on Whitewater 7-0 with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.

The remainder of the first half and much of the second half went scoreless for both teams. It was not until the 3:45 mark in the second quarter that the Titans managed to add to its point total.

Oshkosh students and fans pack the stands as they watch the Oshkosh-Whitewater game on Saturday. For the contest, the recorded attendance was 5,781, and rally towels were handed out before the game to supporters.Lydia Sanchez | The Advance-Titan

Oshkosh students and fans pack the stands as they watch the Oshkosh-Whitewater game on Saturday. For the contest, the recorded attendance was 5,781, and rally towels were handed out before the game to supporters.

With Whitewater starting its first drive of the second half on its own 15-yard line, Warhawks quarterback Cole Wilber threw one pass before being intercepted by Titans’ junior linebacker Derrick Jennings Jr.

Starting on its own 13-yard line, the Titans went 66 yards in 8:01 to tack on 3 points after a Geisthardt kick from 38 yards out. With 3:45 to play in the first half, the Titans were up 10-0.

Whitewater was given the ball one more time before the first half ended, but the Titans defense forced a punt after a short three-and-out series.

With 2:06 remaining on the clock, the Titans had the ball on its own 40. UWO was able to go 48 yards in nine plays before junior Turner Geisthardt kicked another field goal to extend the Titans lead to 10-13 with 00:15 to play in the first half.

At the end of the first half, the Titans were leading on all sides of the ball including a total of 295 yards of offense to the Warhawks 127 total yards of offense.

Oshkosh got the ball to start the second half and gained 18 yards in six plays before sending out Geisthardt to kick another field goal. His 38-yard attempt was good and put the Titans up by two scores, 16-0.

The following possession resulted in the Warhawks’ first score of the game after a seven-play drive that went 85 yards to put Whitewater on the board 16-7.

Despite allowing Whitewater to get on the board, the Titans did manage to score in the third quarter from an 11-yard touchdown run by Hecker to make the lead 23-7.

However, Whitewater managed to sneak in a crucial touchdown before the end of the third quarter via Warhawks’ junior running back Drew Patterson who had a 4-yard touchdown run.

Although Whitewater missed its extra point at the end of the third quarter, the Titans lead shrunk to 23-13.

Things got off to a rough start for the Titans in the fourth quarter after starting its first drive with a Hecker fumble that was recovered by the Warhawks on its own 4-yard line.

The Warhawks were able to capitalize on the fumble and score its third touchdown of the game to make the score 23-20. However, that touchdown was the last score of the game the Warhawks would have.

Oshkosh answered right back the following drive with its third touchdown of the game from a 53-yard Kasper touchdown to Mentkowski that put the Titans up 30-20 with 8:33 to play in the game.

For the remainder of the game, the momentum was on the Titans’ side, including two interceptions from the Titans defense. One was from junior defensive back Taylor Ripplinger and the other was from junior defensive back Cole Yoder.

UWO sealed the game at the 2:56 mark by scoring its final touchdown as Kasper threw another touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Riley Kallas to bring the final score to 37-20.

Titans head coach Pat Cerroni said he was impressed with the way his team handled the long break and still was able to beat a high-caliber team such as Whitewater.

“Everyone was asking me about that; ‘three weeks off, how are you gonna handle that?’” Cerroni said. “We won, so we handled it well. I gotta give a lot of credit to the players. There was a ton of focus. That’s on them. I can say whatever, and we can coach them, but they were ready to play Saturday. And we’ll see. We’ll see if we’re ready to play this Saturday too.”

The Titans schedule continues next week as they take on UW-Stevens Point on Saturday in the UWO Homecoming game at 1:30 p.m. at J.J. Keller Field.
Last year, Oshkosh traveled to Stevens Point and beat the Pointers, 13-3.”

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