UW-Oshkosh again rose to the occasion in the second half with a 34-13 victory over nationally ranked Marian University (Ind.) on Saturday (Sept. 14) in Indianapolis.
The Titans (2-0), ranked 10th in the NCAA Division III, scored 20 points in the second quarter and then shut out the Knights for the final 40 minutes. Marian (1-2) is ranked second in the NAIA after winning the 2012 national championship. The loss snapped Marian's eight-game home win streak.
Ryan Stefaniak turned the tide on a 13-13 game late in the first half. Quarterback Joey Hecklinski turned and fired a pass to his left, where Stefaniak read the play perfectly. He grabbed an interception and raced 45 yards for the touchdown that gave UW-Oshkosh the lead for good.
Both Stefaniak and Brian Hardy led the Titans with seven tackles. Stefaniak also marked three tackles for loss and one sack. UW-Oshkosh totaled six sacks by six different players.
This was the fourth time in seven games that UW-Oshkosh booked a second-half shutout. The Titans have outscored their opponents in the second half, 134-13, during the last seven contests.
Marian used a 23-yard punt return by Clifford Brown to set up its first score. The Knights then ran play-action, as Hecklinski found Anthony Jones Jr. for a 42-yard touchdown late in the opening quarter.
UW-Oshkosh responded on its next drive with Nick Olla hitting Caleb Voss on a bomb of 49 yards. Four snaps later, Cole Myhra bounced a run to the outside and galloped four yards for a touchdown that put the Titans ahead, 7-6.
The Knights came right back with a 75-yard drive of their own. Taylor Summa made a crucial 13-yard grab to convert 3rd-and-10. After a 46-yard run, Tevin Lake found the end zone for a one-yard touchdown.
Midway through the second quarter, UW-Oshkosh was set up with great field position. Jake Dostalek took the handoff, broke a few tackles and soared over the pylon for a 33-yard score that tied the contest at 13.
Marian missed a field goal late in the second quarter and another early in the third. The Titans then went to work with runs of 13 by Olla and 10 by Myhra. From the 14-yard line, Myhra went straight up the middle and bulldozed a defender at the goal line for his second touchdown of the day. UW-Oshkosh increased its margin to 27-13 with 7:57 left in the third period.
The Titans registered a nine-play, 80-yard drive during the fourth quarter to clinch the victory. Myhra caught a deflected pass for 22 yards to start the series. Zach Kasuboski ran for 15 yards on an option play to get closer. Then on third down, Olla lofted a 17-yard pass to Cory Wipperfurth, who made a diving reception in the corner for the final touchdown.
Myhra set a career-high with 29 carries, totaling 121 yards and two scores. Olla threw for 179 yards, while Voss posted three catches for 65 yards. The Titans achieved a 403-333 edge in total offense, as they converted 9-of-16 third downs. UW-Oshkosh was able to overcome three interceptions and one lost fumble.
Marian finished 0-for-3 on fourth down and came up empty on its final 10 possessions. Hecklinski racked up 206 yards passing, with 60 going to Summa (four catches). Lake rushed for 119 yards and acquired a game-high six receptions for 21 yards.
Narvin Powell topped all players with 11 tackles and a forced fumble. Ryan Hartnett also made 10 stops for the Knights.
UW-Oshkosh has next week off before its home opener against Alma College (Mich.) on Sept. 28.
By Jon Feyen, UW-Oshkosh Sports Information