UW-Oshkosh posted its best defensive performance in 50 games during a 24-3 football victory over UW-Platteville on Saturday (Oct. 15) in Platteville.
The Titans (5-1/3-0 WIAC), who entered the contest ranked 25th in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, had not allowed fewer than seven points since shutting out UW-River Falls in 2006. UW-Oshkosh's defense forced two turnovers and eight punts, while holding the Pioneers (3-3/1-2 WIAC) to just 2-of-14 conversions on third down. The Titans relied on their rushing offense once again, totaling 237-plus yards for the third time in four games.
After the teams traded punts to begin the contest, the Titans got in gear. Nate Wara (Jr. • Oshkosh) connected with Wesley Price (Sr. • San Mateo, Calif.) for 16 yards and Caleb Voss (So. • Van Dyne) for 11 more. On third-and-goal from the 1, Justin Budiac (Sr. • Mukwonago) snuck through the left side for a touchdown.
Budiac struck again late in the first quarter. On the opening play of the drive, Wara ran an option right and pitched to Budiac. He cut back across the field and sprinted free for an 82-yard score that made it 13-0. This marked the third consecutive game that Budiac ran for two touchdowns.
The lone scoring drive of the second quarter was a 79-yard march by the Titans. Among the 12 plays were catches of 45 yards by Garrie Fox (Sr. • Madison) and 12 by Budiac. Nate Becker (Jr. • Waukesha) then drilled a 26-yard field goal two minutes before the break to give UW-Oshkosh a 17-0 cushion.
UW-Platteville finally scratched out some points on its 10th possession. Lee Vlasak got the 12-play drive started with a 21-yard run. Facing 4th-and-4, John Kelly delivered a 10-yard pass to Aaron Loferski to stay on the field. Zach Litchfield later split the uprights from 36 yards out, as 3:25 remained in the third period.
The Pioneers got into the red zone early in the fourth quarter, but a trio of incomplete passes turned the ball over. On its next opportunity, UW-Platteville drove to the Titan 32-yard line before failing on fourth down. Brian Hardy (So. • Bristol) later intercepted a Kelly pass with 3:02 remaining to seal UW-Oshkosh's third straight win over UW-Platteville.
The Titans punctuated their victory with a 32-yard scoring drive. Both Nick Olla (So. • Kewaskum) and Cole Myhra (So. • Menomonee Falls) converted third downs with a run. On fourth-and-goal, Olla ran into the end zone for the game's final touchdown. Olla replaced Wara at quarterback and completed 7-of-12 passes for 100 yards.
Totaling 400 offensive yards, UW-Oshkosh earned a 16-8 advantage in first downs. Before his exit, Wara completed 8-of-12 passes for 63 yards and added another 49 on the ground. Budiac led the Titans with 86 rushing yards, while Fox caught three passes for 77 yards. UW-Oshkosh's defense, which held the Pioneers to their lowest scoring output in 22 games, was paced by the 10 tackles from Taylor Goodman (Jr. • South Wayne) and the eight from Ryan Stefaniak (So. • Muskego).
UW-Oshkosh also yielded under 137 passing yards for the third time in four contests. The Pioneers' 71 passing yards included 50 by Kelly and 21 by Nick Anderson. Vlasak topped the ground game with 44 yards on 15 carries, in addition to his team-highs of four catches and 31 receiving yards. UW-Platteville had outscored its opponents 42-7 in the first quarter this season, but the Titans notched a 14-0 advantage in this bout.
Nick Snyder recorded 14 tackles to lead the Pioneers, while Jacob Zilbar added 12 and Jesse Lindemulder 11.
For their homecoming contest, the Titans welcome top-ranked UW-Whitewater (6-0/3-0 WIAC) on Saturday (Oct. 22). The two squads share first place in the league standings.