Titans go 1-1 to open season

The UW Oshkosh football team came up short last weekend at the hands of Davenport University (Mich.). A final score of 7-3 moved the Titans record to 1-1 on the season.

Davenport University is the first Division II opponent UWO has played since 2006. Coach Patrick Cerroni was happy with how his players played against the Panthers.

“They were extremely talented, and our guys played very well,” Cerroni said.
A confident UWO football team took the field Saturday. All-American linebacker Derrick Jennings and the Oshkosh defense held the Panthers to seven points and intercepted two passes.

“We’re veteran guys, a bunch of buddies,” Jennings said. “When we walk onto the field, we’re not nervous, just having fun.”

The Titans and Panthers traded the first three possessions of the game. The Titans’ second drive of the game, quarterback Kyle Radavich fumbled on the Panthers’ 29-yard line with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter.

Davenport took possession in the second quarter with 13:59 remaining. The Panthers began to drive the ball down the field only for UWO sophomore linebacker Nick Noethe to halt the drive with an interception. Noethe returned the ball 32 yards to the Panthers’ 39-yard line.

On the ensuing Titan possession, UWO wide receiver Dom Todarello came up three yards short on a 4th and 17 pass from Radavich at from the Davenport 29-yard line, handing the ball back to Davenport.

The Panthers responded with a 9 play, 85-yard drive ending in a 7-yard touchdown run by backup QB Haiden Majewski putting the Panthers ahead 7-0 with 2:45 left in the first half.

Early in third quarter, UWO stopped the Panthers on their on 41-yard line, forcing a punt. On the punt return, Todarello returned the ball 32 yards to the Davenport 44 yard line. While being dragged down out of bounds, a 15-yard facemask penalty was called on the Panthers, moving the ball to the 29-yard-line. After five plays resulting in -1 yards, UWO kicker Peyton Peterson lineup for a field goal, pushing the ball just right of the post with 8:58 remaining in the 3rd.
Obtaining possession once again late in the third quarter, the Titans began their drive at the 50-yard line. After a Todarello rush for 13 yards and an unnecessary roughness call on Davenport to tack on another 15 yards, the Titans found themselves in field goal range with 14:10 in the 4th quarter. Peterson knocked a 37-yard field goal through the uprights making the score 7-3.

Following a holding call on the Panthers to move the play to 1st and 20, Majewski dropped back to pass and was intercepted by UWO freshman defensive back Connor Zirpel with 8:04 remaining in the 4th. The Titans took over at their own 38-yard line.

A 13-yard rush by wide receiver Riley Kallas on 2nd and 11 moved the Titans to the 50-yard line. On the following play, Radavich threw a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Ryan Hayes. UWO found themselves on the Panthers’ 34-yard line in search of a touchdown.

Running back Mitch Gerhartz ran on first down for no gain. The Titans looked to air it out on the next three plays only to result in three straight incomplete passes and a turnover on downs. This proved to be the last glimpse of hope for the Titans on Saturday.

Radavich finished the game with 87 yards, Todarello had a team-high 45 yards receiving, while Gerhartz led the Titans in rushing with 29 yards on 18 carries.

Despite the loss, Cerroni said he was pleased with how his team performed across all aspects of the team.
“Our offense was able to move the ball versus an extremely good defensive line,” Cerroni said. “Our special teams was awesome.”

Offensive lineman Alex Wendorf said he believes the early season tests are beneficial for the teams success.
“Once you go through the tough challenges together, stuff seems easier,” Wendorf said. “The competition is still going to stay up, but once you get through the tough stuff together, we can get through anything.”

The Titans will open the season with five consecutive road games. With three more away games remaining, senior standout Jennings said he is not worried about the travel early on in the season.

“We have a name that we call ourselves: The Traveling Circus,” Jennings said. “We approach each game the same exact way.”
Wendorf said the early-season travel doesn’t get to the team. Keeping things light on the road is used to build team camaraderie.

“We’re a bunch of goofy dudes; we’re a circus wherever we go,” Wendorf said. “We did a costume night when we got to the hotel for fun. Long bus rides definitely builds unity, brings us closer.”

Wendorf said the team is using the loss to Davenport to motivate themselves going into the next game.
“Play with more attitude; we got punched in the mouth a little last week,” Wendorf said. “Bring more energy. And hopefully that correlates a little better than last week.”

UWO will look to rebound this weekend versus another D-II team, Lincoln University, in Jefferson, MO.