UW Oshkosh struggles against Blugolds, playoff hopes gone

Evan Moris, Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh football team fell to UW-Eau Claire 20-14 in its final road game of the year on Saturday.

The Titans headed into the matchup versus the Blugolds coming off a disappointing loss to UW-Stevens Point the week prior that effectively knocked UWO out of playoff contention.

The Titans’ offense struggled to move the ball against the Blugolds, only completing a total of five passes for 49 yards. UWO third-string running back Chris Hess had success running the ball and carried the ball seven times for 96 yards.

The Titans’ defense stood its ground, producing seven points and holding the Blugolds to only 20 points.

The Blugolds led time of possession 41:07 to 18:53 against the Titans. UWO was also out-gained by the Blugolds 160 to 358 in total yards.

First quarter

The Titans began the game on offense but were forced to punt on the opening series of the game.

The Blugolds took over at the their own 25-yard line. On the third play of the drive, Oshkosh forced a fumble on Blugolds quarterback Scott Procter. The ball was recovered by Titans linebacker Logan Heise and returned for a touchdown putting UWO ahead 7-0.

The ensuing Blugold possession lasted only two plays as UWEC running back Brycen Froehlic took a run 58-yards for a touchdown to tie the score 7-7 with 11:00 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Titans and Blugolds traded three possessions each to close out the first quarter.

Second quarter

UWO had the ball to begin the second quarter from their own 39-yard line. The Titans were able gain 44 yards running the ball. UWO’s drive stalled at the UWEC 17-yard line. Titans backup kicker Jaydon Haag’s 33-yard field goal attempt was blocked with 12:41 left in the second quarter.

The Blugolds took the final possession of the second quarter at their own 25-yard line with 5:54 remaining in the half. With little time left, the Blugolds ran 14 plays and moved the ball 74 yards to the UWO 1-yard line. The Blugolds passed on a field goal attempt and decided to go for a touchdown before halftime. Eau Claire failed to convert and the score remained tied at halftime, 7-7.

Third quarter

The Blugolds received the ball coming out of halftime. On their opening drive, they marched down the field on a 10-play, 63-yard scoring possession that was capped by a Procter pass to wide receiver Leeshaun Evans to move the Blugolds ahead of the Titans 7-14.

The Titans’ first possession of the second half started at their own 31-yard line with 9:34 left in the third quarter. The first play was a three-yard pass to Titan wide receiver Dominic Todarello. An unnecessary roughness penalty was called on the play, moving the Titans into Blugold territory.

The next play from scrimmage, the Titans were granted with another 15-yard penalty (pass interference), moving the Titans to the UWEC 35-yard line. Two plays later, on his first career carry, Titan running back Joe Franks ran the ball 25 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter.

The ensuing Blugolds possession took the ball 45 yards on 11 plays to set up a 40-yard field goal attempt for Blugold kicker Brad Goetsch. The ball was knocked through the uprights to make the score 14-17 in favor of UWEC with 2:25 left in the third quarter.

Fourth quarter

After a short punt from the Titans, the Blugolds began their second drive at the UWO 47-yard line. UWEC compiled a 16-play, 40-yard drive that took 9:17 off the clock. The drive resulted in a 25-yard field goal, putting the Blugolds ahead 14-20 with 2:23 remaining in the game.

The Titans started their final drive from their own 38-yard line. After an incomplete pass and a quarterback sack, the Titans faced a fourth-and-16. Radavich found wide receiver Mitchell Gerend for a 19 yard gain.

On the next play, Radavich completed a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Riley Kallas to move the ball to the UWEC 33-yard line. Following another sack, Radavich and the offense faced a third-and-17. Radavich attempted a pass toward the sideline and was intercepted by Blugolds defensive back Jared Churak to end the game.

The Titans’ record slipped to 5-4 on season with only one game to play.

Head coach Pat Cerroni said his team has faced adversity with injuries this season but failed to exhibit energy versus the Blugolds.

“It was a lack of attendance,” Cerroni said. “I don’t even think we showed up [to play]. We’ve got a lot of problems right now. There’s no kind way to say it. We’ve been able to overcome some things. Right now, we’re not here mentally.”

Despite the late-season woes from his football team, Cerroni said he could not be more happy with this senior class.

“I just want to say this,” Cerroni said. “I don’t want to take anything away from this senior class; they’ve accomplished a great deal. Two conference championships and these guys were all a part of it, they all played. They’ve done everything they’ve possibly done for this program. I am very proud of them.”

Titan senior defensive back A.J. Plewa reflected on his career as member of the UWO football team and said the four years here are something he will never forget.
“[I have] been apart of three great teams,” Plewa said “My freshman year was one of the first years we went to the playoffs other than 2012. Sophomore year we got to play in the national championship. Last year we had a great team as well. It’s awesome to be a part of that culture.”

Senior safety Taylor Ripplinger said the team’s mindset is positive going into the final game but wants to to see the culture of UWO football to continue to grow through returning players for next season.

“Guys have other responsibilities,” Ripplinger said. “There’s no guarantees that everyone who was on the roster this fall will be on the roster next fall. Everyone has that mindset to enjoy it, giving everything you have and try and go out on a positive note.”

The Titans season finale at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium is this Saturday versus UW-Stout.