OSHKOSH, Wis. -- The defenses came to play on a chilly day in northeastern Wisconsin, but UW-Oshkosh broke through with a touchdown on the first drive of the second half and made it stand up in a 10-3 win over John Carroll in the Division III national semifinals.
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The Titans advanced to the Stagg Bowl for the first time in program history behind three interceptions of John Carroll quarterback Anthony Moeglin. It was the lowerst-scoring national semifinal in Division III football history. UW-Oshkosh will face Mary Hardin-Baylor, which defeated Mount Union 14-12 in the other national semifinal.
After a scoreless first 30 minutes, Dylan Hecker took a direct snap on the second play of the third quarter and ran 28 yards to get into John Carroll territory at the John Carroll 38. Brett Kasper found tight end Max Fuller on a third-down conversion to the 24 and Devon Linzenmeyer ran the ball down to the 3. On first-and-goal from there, Brett Kasper took the snap and rolled out to the left on a naked bootleg, pushing his way past Jovon Dawson to roll into the end zone for the touchdown.
|Cameron Brown gets his hand in to knock the ball away from John Carroll wide receiver Marshall Howell.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
There have not been very many low-scoring semifinals in Division III football playoff history, and only one previous game in the past 30 years where fewer than 21 points were scored. Saturday's game between UW-Oshkosh and John Carroll had the lowest combined score, with just 13 points between the two teams.
|2016||UW-Oshkosh def. John Carroll||10-3|
|1984||Central def. Wash. & Jeff.||20-0|
|2011||UW-Whitewater vs. St. Thomas||20-0|
|1982||Augustana def. St. Lawrence||15-6|
|1979||Ithaca def. Carnegie Mellon||15-6|
|1985||Augustana def. Central||14-7|
Moeglin's third interception, early in the fourth quarter by cornerback Christian Bettin, set the Titans up on the Blue Streaks 12 and resulted in a 32-yard field goal with 10:12 remaining to make the score 10-0.
The Blue Streaks (12-2) put together a couple of short drives but seemed unable to convert the key third down when necessary. John Carroll converted just four of its first 11 third-down opportunities. Cameron Brown had a key pass breakup of Marshall Howell, another on a pass intended for Nico James midway through the fourth quarter and a final one in the red zone in the final minute of the game.
Brown's first breakup came with John Carroll already in Oshkosh territory after a punt. Moeglin had Howell inside the 10, but Brown was with him step for step and got his right hand in there to knock the ball away at the 8.
"I noticed they dropped back and had max protection," Brown said, "so I was immediately looking for him (Howell) because I know he's one of their big threats. As I'm running, all I'm thinking in my head is, 'don't knock him down, don't get a pass interference, just play the ball.' It just played into his hands and I was able to get the ball out."
Out of timeouts and needing a touchdown, John Carroll drove to the UW-Oshkosh 35-yard line with 12 seconds left. But with a chance to run two plays for the end zone, Moeglin was instead sacked on first down by Brandon Floyd and the final seconds ran off.
John Carroll had not been held scoreless through three quarters since a Sept. 18, 2010 51-7 loss to Mount Union.
The Titans held John Carroll to 264 total yards, as Moeglin finished 19-for-39 passing, for 157 yards, and ran for 35 yards. Brett Kasper was 11-for-17 passing for UW-Oshkosh for just 81 yards, as Oshkosh won with 214 yards. Hecker had 18 carries for 74 yards, while Devon Linzenmeyer added 42 yards on 14 carries.
Brown finished with a team-high eight total tackles, five of them solo, in addition to the pass breakups.