UWO falls to River Falls


Photo courtesy: UWO Athletics–Kobe Berghammer barrels down the field, evading River Falls defenders.

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh football team turned the ball over three times as the Titans fell to UW-River Falls 27-24 Saturday at Smith Stadium in a battle between nationally ranked Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams.

UWO, who entered the game ranked 16th in the nation by d3football.com, kicked off the scoring with a 34-yard field goal from Nolan Mobley with under six minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Falcons, who entered the contest ranked 17th in the nation by d3football.com, responded with a touchdown on their next drive as Kaleb Blaha found Mason Van Zeeland for the 20-yard score to take the 7-3 lead.

River Falls scored again after the Titans turned the ball over after a D.J. Stewart fumble, with Blaha rushing for a four-yard touchdown as UWRF extended their lead to 14-3.

The Falcons were given prime field position once again after a blocked punt, but UWO’s defense limited River Falls to just a field goal to increase their advantage to 14 points.

With just over a minute to go in the half, UWO quarterback Kobe Berghammer found an open Stewart, who juked two defenders en route to the 17-yard touchdown. The Titans added a two-point conversion to narrow the UWRF lead to 17-11 after the swinging-gate trick play was successful for the third week in a row.

Stewart said on his touchdown catch, the Falcon defense gave away their coverage at the line of scrimmage.

“I knew I had to get my eyes back to Kobe as quickly as I could,” Stewart said. “Once I had the ball in my hands I saw a gap between the two defenders and split it after I shook them off and it was just a foot race.”

Berghammer found Clayton Schwalbe in the endzone for the four-yard passing touchdown on the first possession of the second half, but Mobley missed the extra-point, keeping the score tied at 17.

After stopping the Falcons on fourth down, UWO marched down the field and scored once again from a Berghammer pass, this time a four-yard touchdown to Tony Steger as the Titans took the 24-17 lead.

At the end of the third quarter, UWRF tied the game after Blaha scored on a three-yard rushing touchdown, his second rushing score of the game.

The Falcons took the lead with just over eight minutes to go in the contest after kicker Justin Scheberl connected on a 23-yard field goal.

UWO had numerous opportunities to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter but continued to turn the ball over. With just under seven minutes to go, Berghammer threw his first pick of the game, but Oshkosh’s Bryce Edwards recovered a Blaha fumble a few plays later.

Stewart said the team’s execution played a role in Saturday’s loss.

“We didn’t play the cleanest game whereas River Falls did,” he said. “ The cleaner team more likely than not will be the one that comes out on top.”

The Titans drove down the field on their next possession, but Berghammer threw another interception on 4th and 15, allowing UWRF to run out the clock as the game ended 27-24.

Berghammer finished the game 17-34, throwing for 216 yards, three touchdowns and two picks with 26 rushing yards. Running back Peter MacCudden was UWO’s leading rusher with 54 yards, while Trae Tetzlaff finished with a game high 41 yards receiving.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive lineman Jhe’veon St. Julian had the lone Titan interception while linebacker Tory Jandrin led both teams in tackles with 13.

On the other sideline, Blaha went 18-32 with 172 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception and a game high 143 rushing yards to go along with two rushing scores.

“We need to clean up our execution and play cleaner ball for next week,” Stewart said. “We also have to limit our penalties no matter the team we’re up against.”

UWO, who dropped to No. 20 in the recent d3football.com poll, will travel to Perkins Stadium to take on UW-Whitewater Friday at 7 p.m.