Titans Conclude Regular Season Unbeaten

Jacob Grant's second career touchdown reception gave the Titans a 21-0 lead over UW-Stout.
Jacob Grant's second career touchdown reception gave the Titans a 21-0 lead over UW-Stout.

Brett Kasper threw for a pair of first-half touchdowns and the Titan defense recorded its first shutout of the year as the nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh football team clinched the outright WIAC title with a 31-0 victory at UW-Stout on Saturday (Nov. 11).

UW-Oshkosh (9-0, 7-0 WIAC), ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, secured the sixth perfect conference season in the 123-year history of the program. The Titans previously won each of their league contests in 1923 (5-0), 1935 (4-0), 1972 (8-0), 2012 (7-0) and 2015 (7-0).

The Titans, who clinched the WIAC's automatic berth to the NCAA postseason with a 42-7 triumph over UW-Eau Claire last Saturday (Nov. 4), have secured 10 league titles overall.

The NCAA will announce the 32-team Division III Championship field during an online selection show at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 12). UW-Oshkosh players and coaches will assemble in Room 1214 of Sage Hall to watch the selection of teams and the unveiling of the playoff bracket.

During Saturday's victory in the regular season finale, UW-Oshkosh limited UW-Stout to just 50 yards and three first downs in the first half as the Blue Devils did not advance past their own 32-yard line.

The Titans, who have won 23 of their last 24 WIAC contests, took a 21-0 lead into intermission on a pair of long touchdown passes from Kasper and a short scoring run by Dylan Hecker.

UW-Oshkosh owned a 275-50 yardage advantage over the first two quarters and went on to secure its first shutout over UW-Stout in the 42 meetings since a 10-0 victory on Oct. 2, 1976.

The Titans concluded the contest with a 396-207 advantage in yards, including 197-46 rushing. UW-Stout gained 83 total yards on its final three possessions while trailing, 31-0.

Jon Kallas and Scott Skornicka led UW-Oshkosh's standout defensive effort with six tackles apiece.

UW-Oshkosh held UW-Stout to 1.5 yards per carry and 4.2 yards per pass attempt.

Cole Yoder added five tackles as 27 Titans were credited with making stops on the day. Skornicka registered two of the Titans' season-high four sacks and three tackles for loss while Nick Boyd and Tyler Watson both recorded quarterback takedowns.

UW-Oshkosh created three turnovers, including interceptions from AJ Plewa and Taylor Ripplinger. Chris Bednarski accounted for the Titans' final takeaway with a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.

Kasper concluded the game 18-for-24 passing for 199 yards with two scores. He completed 16 of 19 passes for 182 yards during the first half.

Mitch Gerhartz paced UW-Oshkosh with 15 carries for 96 yards and one touchdown. His 30-yard touchdown run provided the final score with 9:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Hecker added 15 rushes for 56 yards and his 10th ground score of the year. Hecker extended his school records to 55 career rushing touchdowns and 336 points with a 1-yard run that opened the scoring early in the second quarter.

UW-Oshkosh's Sam Mentkowski led all players with seven receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown, marking his fifth game of the season with more than 100 yards receiving.

Jacob Grant caught three passes for the Titans, including a 21-yard touchdown late in the first half. The touchdown grab was Grant's first of the season.

The teams exchanged punts on the first two possessions of the game before UW-Stout stopped Hecker on fourth-and-goal from inside the Blue Devils' 1-yard line midway through the first quarter.

After three more punts, including two by UW-Stout, the Titans mounted an eight-play, 52-yard drive that culminated in Hecker's 1-yard plunge into the end zone with 10:38 left in the second period. The scoring drive was aided by a 30-yard pass from Kasper to Mentkowski that gave UW-Oshkosh a first down at the Blue Devils' 11-yard line.

Following a three-play, 5-yard drive by UW-Stout, the Titans struck quickly with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Kasper to Mentkowski that capped an 83-second possession.

UW-Stout was forced to punt on its first six possessions. The Blue Devils' seventh drive of the first half resulted in an interception as Ripplinger came down with a Jay Alston heave deep down the sideline at the UW-Oshkosh 35-yard line with just 47 seconds left before intermission.

Kasper connected with Dom Todarello for a 29-yard pass on the second play of the ensuing drive and, following a Titan penalty, Kasper lofted a pass to Grant in the corner of the end zone for a 21-0 UW-Oshkosh advantage with five seconds to play in the second quarter.

Plewa intercepted an Alston pass at the UW-Stout 32-yard line early in the third quarter. The Titans cashed in the turnover five plays later as Turner Geisthardt drilled a career-long 43-yard field goal to extend UW-Oshkosh's lead to 24-0 at the 5:16 mark of the third quarter.

UW-Stout crossed midfield for the first time of the contest following a 19-yard run by Rayshawn Graham late in the third period. However, Alston was sacked at the Blue Devil 48-yard line by Boyd four plays later on a fourth-and-3 play.

UW-Stout's Clark Riedel punted for the ninth and final time of the game early in the final quarter. After gaining possession at the Blue Devil 43-yard line, the Titans created the final score on Gerhartz's 30-yard run up the middle and Geisthardt's fourth extra point of the contest with 9:34 remaining.

The Blue Devils had a first-and-10 at the UW-Oshkosh 49-yard line with just over eight minutes left, but Bednarski helped preserve the shutout by recovering a fumble at the Titans' 27 following a 22-yard pass from Alston to Keith Bolden.

Alston concluded the game 15-for-38 passing for 161 yards with two interceptions.

Brian Sandifer led the Blue Devils with five receptions for 56 yards while Lucian Coutier paced UW-Stout with 35 yards rushing on eight carries.

UW-Stout's Josh Johnson had a game-high 11 tackles while Enzo Rosani added 10 stops and Tony Blair recovered a fumble for the Blue Devils.

Nick Schulenburg and Luke Wilz had sacks for the Blue Devils, who entered the game leading the WIAC by allowing just 276.8 yards per game

UW-Oshkosh has won eight consecutive meetings with UW-Stout by a combined score of 321-95.

Photo courtesy of Layn Pitt, UW-Stout Sports Information