WHITEWATER — It was the most basic of plays in UW-Whitewater’s book, and it was only meant to make the Warhawks’ final pass a little easier.
But Drew Patterson saw something different, pushing his way 16 yards for a touchdown that gave second-ranked Whitewater a 17-14 victory against fifth-ranked UW-Oshkosh on Saturday in front of a crowd of 17,535 at Perkins Stadium — the largest ever for an NCAA Division III football game, according to D3Football.com.
“It was a stretch play, basically,” Whitewater coach Kevin Bullis said. “A sweep play designed to stretch out the defense horizontally and make them defend the whole field. I was sitting there thinking we got about seven yards.”
At first glance, that’s what it looked like as the Titans’ defense swarmed Patterson. But the 5-foot-11, 208-pounder kept pushing, broke free and gave the Warhawks the lead with 2:11 left.
“We just went to one of our base plays,” said Patterson, who finished with 81 yards on 20 carries. “It was an outside zone. We got good blocking up front. Came open toward the end there. Our secondary guys held on to their blocks and ended up opening things up.”
The Titans (4-1, 1-1 WIAC) mounted a last charge, getting just past midfield before Brett Kasper was sacked on third-and-10, sealing the Warhawks’ win.
“They’ve been in this situation a lot of times and they’re really good at it,” Oshkosh coach Pat Cerroni said. “I was really confident that we were going to overcome some of that stuff today but it was just a great college football game for everybody.”
Whitewater’s Cole Wilber completed 14 of 24 passes for 125 yards. Marcus Hudson made six catches for 53 yards.
Oshkosh outgained Whitewater 346-279. Devon Linzenmeyer led the Titans with 86 yards on 10 carries while Dylan Hecker carried 18 times for 73 yards and a score.
Kasper completed 17 of 34 passes for 157 yards and a score, with six throws going to Chad Redmer for 66 yards. But the Titans were flagged for 11 penalties, costing them 121 yards, and committed three turnovers.
“You have to give Whitewater a lot of credit,” Cerroni said. “They hit the guys that caused those fumbles. It’s not like our guys just fumbled it away. They did a good job.”
The Titans squandered multiple opportunities to take control.
After Kasper found Dom Todarello for a 10-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, Whitewater fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Oshkosh the ball back at the Warhawks’ 27.
Four straight runs by Dylan Hecker got the Titans down to the 5, but Kasper couldn’t connect with Cody Moon or Evan Thammahong on third and fourth downs, respectively, giving the ball back to Whitewater.
The Warhawks (5-0, 2-0) gave Oshkosh another gift when Wilber fumbled at his 26. But once again Oshkosh couldn’t capitalize as Linzenmeyer fumbled the ball back to Whitewater on the next play.
Oshkosh’s defense made a stand, forcing a three-and-out on Whitewater’s next possession. The Titans followed with an 11-yard drive that got them to the Whitewater 6-yard line before Hecker’s fumble ended the threat.
The Warhawks had 2:41 left in the half and marched down the field but ran out of time before they could bring the kicking unit onto the field. They went into the locker room trailing 7-0.
“I’m upset with myself there for not getting three points at the end,” Bullis said. “Seven seconds on the clock, I got greedy, wanted to take one shot at it.”
The Warhawks finally got on the board with a Will Meyer field goal on their first drive of the second half, then made it a 10-7 game late in the quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Wilber to Brent Campbell.
Stymied by the Whitewater defense after the break, Oshkosh pulled back in front on Hecker’s 1-yard run with 11:52 left.
Oshkosh 0 7 0 7 — 14
Whitewater 0 0 10 7 — 17
O — Todarello 10 pass from Kasper (Wettstein kick)
W — FG Meyer 36
W — Campbell 18 pass from Wilber (Meyer kick)
O — Hecker 1 run (Wettstein kick)
W — Patterson 16 run (Meyer kick)
First downs — O 19, W 25. Rushes-yards — O 37-189, W 44-152. Passing yards — O 157, W 127. Passes (att-com-int-td) — O 17-35-1-1, W 15-28-0-1. Punts-ave — O 5-38.6, W 6-35.5. Fumbles-lost — O 2-2, W 3-3. Penalties-yards — O 11-121, W 6-52.
Passing: O — Kasper 17-34-1, 157. W — Wilber 14-24-0, 125. Rushing: O — Linzenmeyer 10-86. W — Patterson 20-81. Receiving: O — Redner 6-6. W — Hudson 6-53.
Att. — 17,535.