The UW-Whitewater football team was defeated by the No. 3 UW-Oshkosh Titans 37-20, dropping their conference opener for the first time since 2001.
The Warhawks (1-3, 0-1) battled back from 23-7 to bring the game within three, but UW-W could not stop the Titan rushing attack long enough to complete the comeback.
“1-3, that doesn’t happen around here,” wide receiver Marcus Hudson said. “We had a talk and we know we need to be more locked in whether that’s in practice or outside of practice. We have to turn this around.”
The Warhawk defense played well for the majority of the first half, but a 96-yard touchdown pass between Titan quarterback Brett Kasper and wide receiver Sam Mentkowski completely changed the feel of the game.
Coming into the game, UW-W head coach Kevin Bullis’ biggest key for stopping the Titans was stopping their long plays. Despite the Warhawks keying in on the long plays, the Titans were able to rack off two touchdowns passes longer than 50 yards and a couple more runs of 30 plus yards.
“It really came down to bad eye play from the cornerback,” Coach Bullis said of the two long passing touchdowns.
“Both guys took a peek at the ball instead of keeping their eyes disciplined to the receiver.”
The Titans kicked in two field goals to give them a 13-0 halftime lead.
The Warhawks offense was able to get going in the second half, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions.
“Historically our offense really rolls in the second half, but we need more production in the first,” Bullis said, “and our offense is more than capable of doing that.”
On their first drive, UW-W started with five runs before quarterback Cole Wilber hit senior wide receiver Marcus Hudson on a 53-yard touchdown pass to cut the Oshkosh lead to nine. Hudson finished with 68 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the season.
“I think we found it again,” Hudson said about the connection between him Wilber.
On the next possession Titan running back Dylan Hecker ran in an 11-yard touchdown to extend the UW-O lead back to 16.
UW-W opened up their second drive of the half with a 62 yard pass to wide receiver Jarrod Ware. Running back Drew Patterson capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run to cut the Titan lead to ten. Patterson finished the game with 149 yards on 23 carries.
“The o-line were making some great blocks and they were able to open up some running lanes to really open up that running game in the second half,” Patterson said.
After a Titan fumble on the goal line, the Warhawks scored their third touchdown of the second half to cut the Titan lead to three. The Warhawks marched down the field in two minutes before senior tight end Tony Gumina ran in the one-yard touchdown on third and goal.
From that point on, the game was all UW-O. The Titans closed out the game with a heavy dose of Hecker who finished the game with 190 yards on 32 carries.
The Titans scored touchdowns on their last two possessions while the Warhawks threw two interceptions on their last two drives to give the Titans a 17-point victory. Wilber finished the game with 226 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
The pursuit to turn the season around will start on Oct. 7 when UW-W hosts No. 22 UW-Stout in their home-opener.
“We’re really excited to play at home for a change here this season,” running back Drew Patterson said. “It’s always nice to play in the Perk.”