December 6, 2012

UW-Oshkosh lives in the now

More news about: UW-Oshkosh
Funny and outspoken, Pat Cerroni keeps his UW-Oshkosh Titans loose on the Road to Salem.
UW-Oshkosh athletics photo

By Jason Galleske
D3sports.com

Ben Strehlow clearly remembers the last time his UW-Oshkosh Titans lost a football game. It was 30-24 against nemesis UW-La Crosse on on Oct. 29, 2011, one week after taking then-top-ranked and eventual three-time champion UW-Whitewater to the wire. With the loss, the dreams of the school's first postseason went out the window.

"We've gotten the game taken away in overtime and we know how bad it is," Strehlow, a senior offensive lineman said. "We didn't want to that to happen again, going into another overtime game and knowing how much harder you have to fight."

The fifth-ranked Titans have reeled off 15 straight wins since the disheartening loss, including last week's come-from-behind, 31-24 overtime victory over third-ranked Linfield in McMinnville, Ore. Linfield hadn't lost at home since Oct. 25, 2008, a span of 25 games.

"Knowing you can't take any play off is something you can't do," Strehlow said. "Even through these playoffs it's something that we've shown."

And this time, the first trip to the postseason lasts another week. The Titans (13-0) will take their Division III-leading win streak to St. Paul to play fourth-ranked St. Thomas (13-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.

"We're not going to talk about how good St. Thomas is the last five years," Cerroni said. "We're just going to talk about Saturday."

The Tommies have been impressive over that span, going 56-5, including a their second visit to the semifinals.

"They're going to have plays go in their favor," Strehlow said. "We've  just have to focus on the next play and what we can do to win the next game."

The Titans do not seem to be overmatched, regardless of opponent. Even coaches may take out their notebooks and jot down what they are learning on a weekly basis.

"At this point, they're teaching us," Cerroni said. "At halftime [against Linfield], I was thinking, 'Man, that was a great run.' They weren't done. They really believe. You can have fake belief, (but) they're really teaching us as coaches."

Each time in the playoffs, the Titans have have trailed by double-digit margins. Including a 24-9 deficit to Linfield in the final quarter last week. The Titans were also down 14 points to Bethel in the second round and 10 to St. Scholastica in the postseason opener.  In the regular season, the Titans trailed just three times -- all in the first half.

"Most of the year we've been getting ahead of teams," Strehlow said. "We know in playoffs you never panic, you never worry. You always know that you can win in your head. Even with our conference, there's a lot of great teams battling through. You're seeing the speed of teams. You just know that you can [come back]."

The Titans earned the right to battle in overtime last week when senior Nathan Smith  blocked a 39-yard attempt from one of the nation's best kickers, Josh Kay, with no time left in regulation.

 "I think what I've seen is right now, the difference is we have seniors," Cerroni said. "Who blocks a field goal with 17 seconds to go? The defense doesn't get a lot of credit. We know [Linfield] was good, we didn't know what was going to happen."

It doesn't hurt the Titans to have solid skill position players. Quarterback Nate Wara, running back Cole Myhra and wide receiver Caleb Voss were all named to the D3football.com All-Region First-Team. Wara, a senior has compiled 3,784 yards and 38 touchdowns. Through the air, he has 3,045 yards. Myhra, a junior, has 1,674 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and Voss, a fellow junior, adds 61 catches for 1,234 yards and 13 touchdowns. The work the trio does is contagious, Strehlow said.

"It's great having players make plays for you when sometimes there isn't something there," said Strehlow, who earned D3football.com second team honors.

Strehlow figured after the Titans picked up the pieces against UW-La Crosse and reeled off two wins to finish last year's season at 7-3 that a chance to make this year a special one was on the horizon. Initially though, the thought wasn't to go this deep in the playoffs.

"We were definitely focused on winning the WIAC first," Strehlow said. "Now that the playoffs are going, winning a national championship."

Winning the WIAC wasn't something that was an easy task as Whitewater won it the past seven years, advancing to the Stagg Bowl each time and winning four of them.

The Titans get to continue to enjoy the ride and are now one game from playing in a national championship. Whomever wins Saturday's game will be making an appearance in the Stagg Bowl for the first time in school history.

"Personally, I'd not rather worry about next step and worry about the next day," Cerroni said. "We're not going to think about what we're doing here until it's all over, it's kind of fun. Lets win one more."

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Final
Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
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at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
Cancelled
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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Final
at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score Recap
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
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Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Final
Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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