Oshkosh takes control of WIAC
WHITEWATER There were no magical last-second plays or controversial calls that went against UW-Whitewater’s football team.
UW-Oshkosh simply marched into Perkins Stadium on Whitewater’s Homecoming and Hall of Fame Day and proved to a stadium-record 12,318 fans that it was better than the three-time defending national champion Warhawks
Tenth-ranked UW-Oshkosh (7-0, 4-0) dominated the first half and then showed championship-level poise in the second half to withstand the Warhawks’ fierce comeback attempt en route to an impressive 28-13 victory.
The Titans’ inspired victory puts them in the driver’s seat for its first WIAC championship since 1976 and likely leaves No. 5-ranked Whitewater (5-2, 3-1) on the outside of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
“I’d be surprised if they don’t go far this year,” Warhawk coach Lance Leipold said. “Not only do have a lot of experienced seniors, but they also have a good group of juniors. And that is something that we haven’t had this year with all of our injuries.”
The Titans drove Leipold’s point home from the opening possession where senior quarterback Nate Wara drove his team 75 yards on 13 plays, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Voss.
The Warhawk crowd stood silent as Wara later added a 60-yard touchdown pass to Voss and a 21-yard pass to Cory Wipperfurth to put Oshkosh in command 21-0 at halftime.
Meanwhile, the Warhawk offense never found an answer in the first half and eventually replaced starting quarterback Lee Brekke with backup Matt Behrendt.
But Behrendt finally gave Whitewater a spark in the second half, firing a pair of third-quarter touchdowns of 22 and 29 yards to freshmen receivers Joe Worth and Dantrell Wright. That made it 21-13 Oshkosh late in the third.
Behrendt, who has not been named the starter for next week yet, completed 18 of 31 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew 14 (Brekke) was not going to last because he just hasn’t been playing well,” said Cerroni, whose team was outgained 226-27 in total yards in the third quarter. “Behrendt played a little last week against Stout and gives them a lot of fire, and boy, they found a quarterback today.”
Behrendt put Whitewater on the verge of drawing even closer he hit Morris with a 43-yard reception that propelled the Warhawks inside the Titan 20.
But Desmin Ward’s fumble on fourth-and-one at the Oshkosh 7 ended the drive and rekindled momentum back to the visitors.
And the Titans never relinquished momentum from there.
After both teams traded punts, Oshkosh struck the crucial blow on running back Cole Myhra’s 1-yard touchdown run with 6:48 to play.
Whitewater failed to score again and quietly walked off the field defeated for the first time in a WIAC game since Stevens Point defeated the Warhawks, 17-16, in the final seconds on Oct. 25, 2008. The Warhawks had rolled off 27 straight WIAC victories—including the past three 7-0 undefeated seasons—since then.
“We beat them (Whitewater) convincingly, which is to say we didn’t need a last-second score like Stevens Point did in 2008 to win,” Cerroni said. “We even got to kneel down at the end. How cool is that?”