Story and photo courtesy of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Athletics
UW-Oshkosh clinched its first WIAC title in 36 years with a 41-7 victory at UW-La Crosse on Saturday.
The win gives UW-Oshkosh (5-0 WIAC) at least a share of the WIAC crown. UW-Eau Claire, UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater list second in the standings with 3-2 records. Because the Titans defeated each of those teams, UW-Oshkosh is headed to the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
The Titans are 8-0 for the first time in program history. This was also UW-Oshkosh's first win in La Crosse since the 1967 season.
Nate Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh) threw for four touchdowns and a career-high 369 yards, while Caleb Voss (Jr. • Van Dyne) hauled in seven passes for a personal-best 171 yards and two scores. The offensive output of 543 yards also included 152 rushing on just 10 carries by Cole Myhra (Jr. • Menomonee Falls).
On the game's third possession, Wara hit Voss for a 16-yard gain. Another Voss catch for 15 yards put the Titans at the one-yard line, where Jake Dostalek (Jr. • Waterford) ran it in for a 7-0 lead.
After punting on its next series, UW-Oshkosh scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. The first of those drives was sparked by Dostalek's 54-yard reception on 3rd-and-18. On the opening play of the second period, Wara found Myhra for a 29-yard touchdown.
Voss took over after that. He grabbed an 18-yard pass to reach Eagle (3-5/2-3 WIAC) territory. Wara fired to Voss on the next snap for a 43-yard touchdown that made it 21-0.
The Titan defense got a sack – one of nine for the day – on the ensuing possession to force a punt. UW-Oshkosh then went deep on its first play, as Wara hit Voss for a 62-yard score with 6:59 to play before halftime.
UW-La Crosse got its only points after receiving the second-half kickoff. The Eagles' 71-yard drive featured three big pass plays at the end. Brock McMullen marked a 26-yard catch before Jake Welch grabbed a pass for 17 yards. Andy Sires connected with Welch on the next play for a 23-yard touchdown to pull within 27-7.
UW-Oshkosh didn't wait long to respond. On the third play of its next series, Myhra bolted through the defense 74 yards to pay dirt.
Wara finished another short drive (three plays) with a 48-yard touchdown to Mitch Hintz (Jr. • Kimberly) late in the third quarter. Wara, who owns 67 career touchdown passes, completed 20 of his 30 attempts in the game.
UW-La Crosse ran 74 plays for 225 yards, while the Titans ran 71 for 543 yards. The Eagles finished with 43 rushing yards on 43 carries. Jared Stan led the team with 33 yards on nine attempts, as Welch booked five catches for 59 yards. Sires recorded 172 yards on 14-of-28 passing.
The UW-Oshkosh defense held its opponent to single-digit points for the fourth time this season. Beau Steffens (So. • Waterford) paced the unit with 11 tackles (one sack). The Titans also received two sacks from Taylor Goodman (Sr. • South Wayne) and 1.5 by Cody Huemmer (So. • Sun Prairie). Tim Filter (Sr. • New Berlin) snatched his league-leading sixth interception of the year.
Max Nicholson topped the Eagles with 10 tackles, while Jake Meckstroth had eight stops. Brandon Heeg recorded two tackles for a loss.
The Titans, ranked sixth by D3football.com, posted 22 first downs compared to UW-La Crosse's total of 14.
UW-Oshkosh can clinch the WIAC title outright with a win over UW-Stevens Point on Saturday (Nov. 3) at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.