The Advance-Titan

Approaching the Summit

Alex Nemec | The Advance-Titan

Coming off a shutout victory in the first round of their 2017 playoff run, the 11-0 UW Oshkosh Titans continued their success with a second round victory over the North Central College Cardinals by a score of 41-21. The victory came in a record-setting fashion, as senior quarterback Brett Kasper threw for a record-tying and career-high six touchdowns this past Saturday.

With the victory, UWO now advances to the quarterfinals to take on the 12-0 Wartburg Knights on Dec. 2 at Titan Stadium, with kickoff set for 12:05 p.m. The Knights are ranked 17th in the country and are the champions of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, making their first playoff appearance since 2014.

Despite having a record day against the Cardinals, Kasper said he never gets too comfortable with his performance. And even though the Titans won by twice the Cardinal’s total score, Kasper said the deficit was still too close.

“Obviously we feel pretty good about our performance but we need to always continue to improve,” Kasper said. “We need to learn to finish games, it got a little too close there at the end of the game. We know as we go forward and as the competition gets harder we can’t let that happen.”

Senior wide receiver Sam Mentkowski also had a record day. Surpassing the previous school record of career catches at 164, Mentkowski had four catches for two touchdowns and 117 yards to help break the school record at 165 total catches and all-time record of 2,831 receiving yards.

Mentkowski said the offense’s overall performance is what the team strives for and it is always reassuring as an offense to see what they are capable of.

“Offensive-wise we have a lot of confidence right now,” Mentkowski said. “Saturday was a big confidence boost in the first half. I think everything was hitting and everything we called was working and that is a good feeling for an offense going forward in the playoffs.”

Titans head coach Pat Cerroni said it is nice to see his players play at their best and to see their hard work pay off. With the offense showing recently what they are truly capable of, Cerroni said the bar is set high and it is up to the team to keep the success going.

“I’m very happy for them, they work hard,” Cerroni said. “They came out and they dominated on Saturday and against a very good defense too. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for our team. I thought defensively we did what we had to do and offensively we have been waiting for that explosion for the past five weeks. We just gotta hope we can keep that energy and with the weather the way it is, that is what we are hoping for.”

Despite starting the game with the ball, Oshkosh was forced to punt on its first drive after a three-and-out.

The Cardinals then went on to score a touchdown on their following drive to take the early lead 7-0 with 8:41 to play in the first.

However, the Titans got back into the game quickly. Kasper lead the Titans 46 yards in six plays before throwing his first touchdown of the game by connecting with junior wide receiver Dom Todarello for a 21-yard score.

With the game tied, the Titans defense managed to keep the Cardinals from scoring for the following two quarters. Meanwhile, the Titans continued to rack up the points.

In the second quarter, Kasper threw a touchdown on all four of the Titans’ drives, starting with a 17-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Riley Kallas. The next two touchdowns were connections to Mentkowski, which included a 50-yard touchdown pass.

The Titans ended the first half with another touchdown with a 25-yard pass from Kasper to Todarello, which made the score 35-7 at halftime.

Kasper had one more touchdown in the game, which came in the third quarter from a 16-yard connection to junior tight end Cody Moon. With 7:33 to play in the third, the Titans were up 42-7.

In the fourth quarter the Cardinals had two more scores to cut their deficit in half 42-21. But, it was not nearly enough before the clock expired with the Titans on top.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Approaching the Summit