Titans upset by Pointers in WIAC’s oldest rivalry


Emil Vajgrt

UW Oshkosh senior Derrick Jennings Jr. lines up to tackle UW-Stevens Point ball carrier. Jennings had a team high ten tackles in the loss to the Pointers.

Evan Moris, Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh football team took the field Saturday in hopes of improving their record to 6-2 on the season versus UW-Stevens Point, but fell short 27-21 to the Pointers.

Despite dominating the game in yards, first downs and time of possession, the Titans were unable to convert on the field goal opportunities while turning the ball over four times.

UWO quarterback Kyle Radavich threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed four interceptions after only throwing one all season. Wide receiver Riley Kallas collected 11 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Running back JP Peerenboom had a career-high 14 carries in his first career start filling in for the injured Mitch Gerhartz.

First quarter

On the first possession of the game, the Titans forced the Pointers into a three-and-out. After a punt by the Pointers, UWO took the ensuing drive 65 yards on only six plays to score a touchdown. A 34-yard pass from Radavich to Kallas put the Titans up 7-0 with 11:02 remaining in the first.

After a kickoff return to their own 30-yard line, the Pointers marched back down the field on an eight-play, 70-yard drive that was capped off by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Pointer quarterback Max Herro to his wide receiver Steve Herra to make the score 7-6 (missed point after touchdown) with 7:21 to play in the first quarter.

Back in possession with the ball, the Titans charged down the field to the UWSP 12-yard line where the offense was stopped on third down. UWO kicker Peyton Peterson lined up for a 29-yard field goal attempt that went wide left.

Second quarter

The Pointers’ first possession of the second quarter resulted in an interception by UWO defensive back Calvin Shilling, who picked the ball off at the Titan 19-yard line and returned it 36 yards to the Pointers 45-yard line.

The UWO offense took advantage of the great field position provided by the defense. Radavich led the Titans on a seven-play, 45-yard drive, putting the Titans ahead 14-6 with 10:46 remaining in the second quarter.

UWO forced another punt on the ensuing Pointer drive allowing the Titan offense another opportunity to add to their lead. The Titan offense drove themselves to the Pointer 37-yard line when Radavich dropped back to pass and was intercepted by Pointers defender Omarri Johnson, who returned the ball 41-yards to the Titans’ 28-yard line.

With a short field, the Pointers were able to capitalize with a six-play, 28-yard drive resulting in a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion tying the game 14-14 shortly before halftime.

Third quarter

The Titans began the second half with the ball, starting the drive at their own 24-yard line. The Pointers were able to force the Titans into a third and 13. Radavich stepped back to pass and was intercepted by Johnson once again.

The Pointers, with another short field opportunity, generated and capitalized on a field goal try from 48-yards from UWSP kicker Victor Ponterio, putting the Pointers ahead 17-14 with 12:12 remaining in the third quarter.

The teams traded the next possessions with punts. On the Titans return, wide receiver Dominic Todarello returned the ball 32 yards to the UWSP 15-yard line. They were halted on the fourth down, prompting another Peterson field goal, this time from 26-yards out. The kick was wide left again.

UWSP took over at their own 20-yard line with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter.

Fourth quarter

The Pointers compiled a 12-play, 75-yard drive that the Titans were finally able to stop at their own 5-yard line to force a field goal attempt. Ponterio put a 22-yard field goal through the uprights putting the Pointers ahead 20-14 early in the fourth quarter.

On second-and-10 on the ensuing Titan drive, Radavich threw another interception that was returned for a touchdown, making the score 27-14 Pointers.

Radavich and the UWO offense closed the gap after the pick-6. The Titans rallied together a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive ending with Radavich finding wide receiver Mitchell Gerend to pull the Titans with in six points.

The Titans defense would stop the Pointers the next two times they had possession, setting up a thrilling finish for the UWO offense.

UWO started its final possession of the game at their own 32-yard line with 58 seconds remaining. Radavich found Kallas three straight plays to advance the ball to the UWSP 43-yard line. On the fourth play, Radavich completed the pass to Gerend near the sideline to stop the clock.

With less than 20 seconds remaining in the game, Radavich was looking to find a receiver across the middle, but the ball was tipped and intercepted, ending any hopes of a Titan win.

Titans’ starting offensive linemen Alex Wendorf said he believed the offense was going to pull off a comeback win on the final drive.

“In the last four years that I’ve been here, that every time our offense is on the field that we have a chance to score,” Wendorf said. “I thought we were going to do it on that drive.”

UWO was down its starting running back Gerhartz due to injury. Head coach Pat Cerroni said it was a factor but not something to place the loss on.

“At this point it’s unfortunate,” Cerroni said. “You don’t want to put your whole team around one guy. Mitch [Gerhartz] is a pretty big part of it. JP [Peerenboom] is playing injured. And I’m not going to make any excuses. [Stevens] Point beat us. We were not good.”

Cerroni said players being hurt have been a part of this football team all year, but at this point of the season it cannot justify a loss.

“We have won, and we never talked about it,” Cerroni said. “At Davenport [University], we had nine starters out, nine. We have a beat-up football team. Cody Moon’s playing, but he’s not healthy. Brady Hiemer didn’t even play Saturday again. Jason Wright, [the] starting left tackle, didn’t play. Gerhartz didn’t play. I think what you have to say is, we got beat by a team that played better than us. That’s fair.”

After the game Cerroni addressed the team. UWO safety Taylor Ripplinger said Cerroni’s message was to keep getting better, and now is not the time to give up.

“[Cerroni] said just to keep our heads up, season’s not over, got to keep fighting,” Ripplinger said. “We can’t lay down and let these next two teams take advantage of that. We’ve been exposed a little bit and we’re not invincible anymore. We have to get back to work and still come with that same passion and drive day in and day out.”

The UW Oshkosh football team knew they need to win out for a shot at an at-large playoff berth. With the loss to UWSP, the chances of a postseason run are virtually gone. Ripplinger said he’s going to make the most of the final two weeks of the season.

“Taking it all in, enjoying the process of it all,” Ripplinger said. “In the middle of the season you get a little bump in the road, you get banged up a little bit and practice starts to drag on. You have midterms and it’s kind of hard, knowing that these next two weeks could be it. Every meeting session we have, the road games, the overnights, the traveling on the busses, pregame meals, every part of it. In just a few short weeks it will all be done for us seniors.”

Wendorf said he wants to leave this football team knowing he’s given all his effort for himself and teammates.

“I’d like two wins,” Wendorf said. “Go out on a high note, leave everything on the field. Do everything that I can for this program.”

Cerroni said the final two weeks of this season should be played with everything left on the field and sending the seniors out the right way.

“Nothing but respect for [the seniors],” Cerroni said. “Like I said, we’re not done here. We would like to win these next two games, get to 7-3 and go off into the sunset and start over. That’s the goal.”

The Titans will play this Saturday at UW-Eau Claire. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.