Titans football defeats Muskies in first round of playoffs

Nate Proell

The third-ranked UW Oshkosh Titans football team started its post-season at home with a “something”- 0 victory over the Lakeland University Muskies in the first round of the NCAA Division III national championship tournament.

Undefeated Oshkosh will move on to the second round to the face 10-1 North Central Cardinals at Titan Stadium next Saturday at noon.

UWO’s third-straight opening-round playoff victory started with the Titans setting the pace early.

After getting the ball to begin the game, starting senior quarterback Brett Kasper lead the Titans 65 yards in six plays before senior running back Dylan Hecker rushed for a 20-yard score.

The first drive of the game for the Muskies resulted in a punt from their own 47, which put the Titans on their own 46 to start their second drive of the game.

A 19-yard rush from sophomore Mitch Gerhartz helped the Titans score their second touchdown of the game. A 5-yard shovel pass from Kasper to junior wide receiver Dom Todarello put the Titans up 14-0 with 5:31 to play in the first quarter.

A forced turnover on downs from the Titans’ defense on the following possession set UWO up to continue to extend their lead. Gerhartz got his first score of the game on a 14-yard rush to make the score 21-0.

A quick three-and-out on the Muskies’ following drive gave the Titans another scoring opportunity, capitalized by Kasper as he connected with senior wide receiver Sam Mentkowski for a 31-yard touchdown.

The rest of the first half remained scoreless for the Muskies, as the Titans offense scored two more touchdowns to make the score 42-0 at halftime.

It was also in the first half that the Titans defense had two interceptions, one each from junior defensive back AJ Plewa and junior linebacker Derrick Jennings Jr.

Ending the first half with 167 yards and three touchdowns, Kasper did not play the second half due to the Titans lead.

Titans backup quarterback Jayden Essman started the third quarter with multiple drives resulting in punts. However, at the 3:05 mark of the third quarter Essman lead a drive that resulted in a 28-yard rush from junior running back Chad Walton.

As the third quarter came to an end the score was 49-0.

Despite starting from their own 12 yard line, the Titans first possession of the fourth quarter resulted in Essman throwing his first touchdown of the game. A 13-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Mitchell Gerend put the score at 56-0 with 7:54 to play in the game.

At the 7:54 mark in the fourth quarter, the Muskies were on the move and in Titan territory at the UWO 21. However, the Titans defense recorded their third interception of the game as freshman defensive back Mitch Ganassin intercepted the Muskies on the UWO 27 and ran the ball 73 yards for a touchdown.

After the pick-six the Titans were up with the eventual final score of 63-0. With 1:40 to play in the game the Muskies were able to run five plays before time expired. Titans football defeats Muskies in first round of playoffs