Titans hail over La Crosse in Homecoming game

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Lydia Sanchez

Junior JP Peerenboom (6) gets the handoff and takes it downfield while following his blocker, sophomore Tommy Noennig (85), at Saturday’s Homecoming game against UW-La Crosse.

The UW Oshkosh football team took the field Saturday against Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe UW-La Crosse. The Titans defeated the Eagles 24-13 to improve the UWO record to 5-2 on the year and 3-1 in WIAC play.

The Titans capitalized on huge play opportunities in the first half from running back Mitch Gerhartz and wide receiver Dominic Todarello to propel them past the visiting Eagles.

The UWO defense held the Eagles to 284 yards of total offense, intercepted the ball two times and forced the Eagles to punt five times.

The Titan offense compiled 408 yards of total offense led by quarterback Kyle Radavich’s 235 yards passing and Gerhartz’ 111 yards rushing.

UWO elected to go into the wind in the first and third quarters in a decision that would have great impact on the game during the fourth and and second quarters.

First quarter

The Titans’ and Eagles’ first drives both stalled and resulted in punts to the opposition. UWO’s second drive of the game began at their own 36-yard line. After picking up first down on a third and short on a Radavich pass to wide receiver Mitchell Gerend for five yards. When the Titans had a first and 10 from their own 49-yard line, the Titans handed the ball off the Gerhartz, who streamed down the sidelines for a 51-yard touchdown, making the score 7-0 Titans.

In the ensuing Eagles’ drive, UW-La Crosse quarterback Ben Schramski marched the Eagles down the field completing five passes. The Eagles had a second and goal from the UWO 2-yard line. On third down, the Eagles’ Schramski dropped back to pass and was sacked by UWO safety Cole Yoder, forcing a UWL field goal attempt that was kicked wide left.

UWO stalled again after the field goal attempt and punted back to the Eagles. UWL completed a deep pass play to wide receiver Dominic Labellarte, taking the Eagles to the UWO 12-yard line. Facing a fourth and six from the UWO 8-yard line, Schramski found his wide receiver Devonte Amos in the back of the end zone to even the score 7-7 as time expired in the first quarter.

Second Quarter

The teams switched sides of the field in the second quarter, giving the Titans the wind at their back. On the second drive of the quarter for UWO, Radavich found Todarello for a 85-yard pitch and catch, making the score 14-7 Titans.

The Eagles were unable to get into the Titans’ side of the field after the 10-minute mark in the second quarter.

UWO was able to get in field goal range late in the second quarter after UWO linebacker Derrick Jennings Jr. intercepted the ball. Titan kicker Peyton Peterson knocked home a 39-yard attempt, putting the Titans ahead 17-7 going into the half.

Sophomore Mitchell Gerend is shoved out of bounds by a UW-La Crosse defender while trying to gain a few extra yards.

Lydia Sanchez
Sophomore Mitchell Gerend is shoved out of bounds by a UW-La Crosse defender while trying to gain a few extra yards.

Third quarter

The Titan defense refused to be scored on in the third quarter.

The Eagles had four drives in the third quarter and were only able to cross half field twice before punting back to the Titans. The UWO offense didn’t fair well in third as well only able to punch into La Crosse territory twice as well.

Fourth quarter

UWL had their most successful drive of the second half early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles strung together a 10-play, 52-yard drive resulting in a touchdown to pull within four points with just over ten minutes left in the game.

In the ensuing Titan drive, Radavich and the offense marched down the field on a nine-play, 70-yard ending with a third down touchdown pass to a wide open Mitchell Gerend for 22 yards in the back of the end zone putting the Titans ahead 24-13.

The Eagles received the ball for the final time with 7:13 minutes left. On third and 10, Schramski dropped back to pass and was intercepted by Titan defensive back Kollyn Beyer for his first interception of the year.

The UWO offense was able to drain the remainder of the clock ending the game with a score of 24-13.

The Titans’ defense has been extra strong in the red zone this season. Head coach Pat Cerroni said play calling and experience have led to the success.

“I think its a couple things,” Cerroni said. “Our guys don’t get too flustered down there. Then schematically were doing some things different. We changed coverage a little bit. [We’ve] found something that might actually work.”

Beyer said the defense bends but does not break when the field gets short.

“We lock up across the board,” Beyer said. “It comes down to one-on-one plays and we have been doing our jobs.”

With windy conditions last Saturday, the offense didn’t seem to struggle versus on athletic Eagles defense and weather. Titans wide receiver Ryan Hayes said the offense found its rhythm against UW-La Crosse.

“The wind definitely played a factor,” Hayes said. “We didn’t throw the ball as much, but our offensive line was able to get a good push and we were able to run the ball.”

The Titan offense has slowly found its identity this season after returning a shell of last years offensive unit. Hayes said the group has come together as a group to produce the results we see on the field.

“We’ve all fed off of each other,” Hayes said. “Dom [Todarello] and Riley [Kallas], being senior and junior leaders, have really got the young guys going; [they have been] on everyone in practice all the time. Kyle [Radavich] is just a great leader. Always in the the receivers’ heads in practice, making sure everyone is on the same page.”

The Titans will head to UW-Stevens Point this Saturday, Oct. 27. The Pointers have struggled this season, but Cerroni said he is not taking them lighty as an opponent.

“You look at the stats and you think they’re not very good,” Cerroni said. “Think of it this way, [UW-Stevens] Point, all they have to do is put together one week out of 10 and they could beat us. We have to be good every week; Point just has to be good for one. We just gotta make sure we do our job.”