A streak, broken

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By Andrea Sidlauskas

Oct. 14, 2015

All good things must come to an end. After a 36-game win streak spanning three years, the Warhawk’s football team took its first lost since Oct. 27, 2012, against conference rival UW-Oshkosh by a score of 10-7.

“It was a surprising feeling,” junior quarterback Chris Nelson said. “We’re not really used to it. A lot of us came together as a team and accepted it. The only thing we can do is move forward and finish up the rest of the season strong.”

The loss was only the fourth for the ’Hawks in the past 90 contests, but the team fell to No. 6 on the D3football.com Top 25 poll, while the UW-Oshkosh Titans jumped from No. 15 to No. 5.

The Titans entered Saturday’s game leading the conference in scoring average, rushing yards, total yards, completion percentage and first downs. They ended the day with 340 total offensive yards, compared to the ’Hawks’ 221 – the lowest output for UW-Whitewater since Nov. 9, 2013 when they defeated UW-Steven’s Point, 17-7.

“I remember when we won in 2012, I said it’s going to take us five years to get back to this point,” UW-Oshkosh head football coach Patt Cerroni said. “We’re at three, so I’m really proud of that.”

Senior running back Jordan Ratliffe ran for 76 yards on 19 carries, and freshman running back Jarrod Ware picked up 30 yards in five carries. Senior running backs Nick Patterson and Dennis Moore sat out due to injuries.  Nelson completed 20 of 26 passes for 150 yards.

Injuries plagued the ’Hawks’ offensive squad, as junior tight end Brent Campbell and sophomore wide receiver Adam Korpela were sidelined after sustaining injuries last week against UW-Platteville. During the game, senior offensive lineman Johnny Wiederholt fell to injury as well.

“Having Adam Korpela out was huge for our offensive scheme,” Nelson said. “We’re kind of banged up right now, and that’s what we’re struggling with: trying to get everybody healthy.”

The game started with five straight punts before the Titans struck first with a touchdown, giving them a 7-0 advantage over the ’Hawks with 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

But the Warhawks answered back on the next drive, after six straight completions by Nelson, an 11-yard run by Ratliffe, and a quarterback keeper resulted in a game-tying touchdown.

The score remained 7-7 until four minutes into the fourth quarter, when the Titans kicked a 41-yard field goal to put the final dagger in the streak-snapping game.

The Warhawks had a chance to tie the score with 1:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, but junior kicker Lake Bachar’s 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked by UW-Oshkosh linebacker Branden Lloyd.

“They have a great kicker so I just assumed we were going to overtime,” UW-Oshkosh Reese Dziedzic said. “But Branden snuck through there and was able to get his hands on it.”

Besides the 36-game win streak, the Titans’ win also broke a 13-year losing streak against the Warhawks at home which dates back to 2002. But Nelson said the ’Hawks’ loss actually takes pressure off of the team.

“Every game we come into, we don’t really try to think about it, but that streak is always in the back of our heads,” Nelson said. “Now that it’s over, we can just go out and play football.”

The ’Hawks continue WIAC play with a special Friday night game Oct. 16 against UW-La Crosse. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Perkins Stadium.