/playoffs/2017/uw-oshkosh-return

Reloaded Titans eager for a return to Salem

More news about: UW-Oshkosh
When the line can open up holes like this for Dylan Hecker, the Titans are nearly impossible to beat.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com


By Andrew Wagner
For D3football.com

For the third straight season, UW-Oshkosh is playing deep into the postseason and while the experience itself is fulfilling, the ancillary benefits a lengthy playoff run provides have laid the foundation for long-term success.

With extra games come extra practice sessions and that's where the Titans have turned themselves from an impressive collection of talent into a legitimate national power.

"I don't think enough can be said about the extra weeks of practice," says head coach Pat Cerroni. "We've done it now for three years. Just like Whitewater did. You're literally getting an extra season over every two years. I think that's the valuable thing about it. Every week coming in here and getting guys reps and all of a sudden, they start believing in the things you're teaching. That's really the gist of if. It's been a great run."

The run continues Saturday against 12-time national champion Mount Union, which visits Oshkosh with a Stagg Bowl berth on the line.

Getting to the semifinal for a second consecutive season isn't surprising to Cerroni, though it certainly wasn't expected. After going 13-2 a year ago and falling 10-7 to Mary Hardin-Baylor in the Stagg Bowl, the Titans returned 41 of 66 letter-winners including nine offensive starters, but brought back just one starter on defense.

"I didn't expect this at all this year," Cerroni admits. "I knew our offense was going to be good but defensively didn't think we'd meet the standards, but we've done a great job. We've gotten stops when we've needed them and our offense is performing at a very high level. It's been very unexpected."

The defensive unit hasn't put up the flashiest of numbers but is 25th in the nation in scoring, holding opponents to 15.3 points per game.

"Last year's (defense) was a completely different group," says senior linebacker Jon Kallas. "So we have had to scheme based on the personnel that we have. Some things we don't do quite as well as last year and some things we do even better. The cool thing about our group this year is that we are so young and new as a whole that every game we get to know each other and ourselves a little more and are still getting even better."

On the offensive side, the Titans have been a juggernaut. They've averaged 41.9 points and 485.8 yards per game, good for 10th and 12th, respectively, in the nation, and are in the top-20 nationally with 245 rushing yards per game.

Senior Dylan Hecker has anchored that attack, rushing for 896 yards and 15 touchdowns, and senior quarterback Brett Kasper was named one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy after completing 169 of 254 passes for 2,728 yards with a 195.2 passer rating.

But neither of those players would be enjoying that level of success if it weren't for a dominant offensive line, which Cerroni points to as the foundation for Oshkosh's success this season.

"They are dominant right now," Cerroni says. "Alex Wipperfurth was recruited here as a defensive lineman and a we switched him a year ago, has blossomed into one heck of a player. We've got Alex Wendorf, the Summers brothers -- Austin and Ty -- Ty Powers. These guys are really good and they're fun to watch. Having an offensive line that is championship caliber is really making this run special."

Preventing Hecker from getting the ball in space is every UW-Oshkosh opponent's objective. 
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com


The run has included victories in 37 of the Titans' last 41 games, knocking off some of D-III football's blue bloods along the way.

"What I'm most proud of right now is we've beaten a lot of good football teams in the last year," Cerroni says. "St. Thomas. St. John's. North Central. Wartburg. We've beaten the teams that are up there in the standings every year.

"We haven't beaten Mary Hardin-Baylor and we haven't beaten Mount Union ... but that wish is coming true right now."

Indeed the Purple Raiders are next on the list and pose a big challenge for the Titans, who fell in non-conference meetings with Mount Union in 2010 and 2011.

"Mount Union is a good, good football team," Cerroni says. "They're extremely talented. They're very well-coached and they have some incredible talent to boot. They do some really nice things. It's going to be interesting.

"You can get wrapped up on all the fluff but at the end of the day, you better go out and get aligned, block the right people and be sound. The ball has to bounce your way at this level. At this point, you still have to get lucky, too. That's what we're going to do. We're going to line up and play this team Saturday. I've got a lot of respect for Vince [Kehres] and his father and what they've done there."

The task is a big one but regardless of what happens Saturday, the extra work the Titans have put in over the last few weeks will pay dividends when training camp kicks off again next fall.

Nov. 10: All times Eastern
Final
Coast Guard 26, at Merchant Marine 12
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at Catholic 20, Maine Maritime 14
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at Amherst 45, Williams 14
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at Stevenson 34, FDU-Florham 0
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Westfield State 27, at Western Connecticut 13
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Hamilton 38, at Bates 13
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Husson 21, at Plymouth State 10
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SUNY-Maritime 34, at Gallaudet 7
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at Bridgewater State 21, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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at Nichols 39, Curry 29
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Union 34, at RPI 10
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at MIT 22, Springfield 7
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Framingham State 47, at Worcester State 6
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Fitchburg State 32, at Mass-Dartmouth 29
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Trinity (Conn.) 9, at Wesleyan 0
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Muhlenberg 53, at Moravian 7
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at WPI 20, Norwich 17
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at Johns Hopkins 42, McDaniel 17
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at Dean 19, Anna Maria 13
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King's 45, at Wilkes 0
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Ithaca 24, at Cortland 21
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Denison 61, at Kenyon 7
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Alfred 41, at Rochester 13
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at University of New England 42, Alvernia 27
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Tufts 35, at Middlebury 13
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Salve Regina 47, at Endicott 34
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at Brevard 28, Greensboro 7
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Brockport 49, at Morrisville State 7
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Montclair State 24, at William Paterson 0
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Lycoming 21, at Misericordia 14
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at Colby 30, Bowdoin 14
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Westminster (Pa.) 21, at Geneva 7
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at Christopher Newport 16, Wesley 14
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at St. John Fisher 31, Buffalo State 28
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Averett 22, at Methodist 13
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Franklin and Marshall 34, at Gettysburg 10
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TCNJ 33, at Southern Virginia 30
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Hobart 42, at St. Lawrence 31
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at Western New England 52, Becker 0
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at Susquehanna 24, Juniata 6
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at Bethany 35, St. Vincent 0
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at Lebanon Valley 30, Albright 24
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at Ursinus 31, Dickinson 0
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Hope 33, at Adrian 14
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Final - OT
Shenandoah 27, at Washington and Lee 24
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at Castleton 21, Alfred State 3
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at Albion 35, Olivet 19
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Washington and Jefferson 33, at Waynesburg 14
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Randolph-Macon 48, at Hampden-Sydney 35
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Trine 48, at Kalamazoo 18
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Wittenberg 27, at Wooster 21
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at Emory and Henry 70, Guilford 27
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at Ohio Wesleyan 40, Hiram 12
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at Frostburg State 38, Salisbury 35
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at Maryville (Tenn.) 31, N.C. Wesleyan 14
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Utica 75, at Hartwick 14
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at John Carroll 45, Baldwin Wallace 35
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at Louisiana College 45, Howard Payne 13
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at Minnesota-Morris 21, Greenville 13
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at Concordia (Wis.) 21, Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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Coe 26, at Luther 7
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 28, Iowa Wesleyan 0
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at MacMurray 34, St. Scholastica 20
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Final - OT
at Aurora 25, Lakeland 22
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Benedictine 54, at Concordia-Chicago 41
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at Chicago 48, Lake Forest 16
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at Washington U. 44, Carroll 6
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at Wabash 24, DePauw 17
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Delaware Valley 33, at Widener 0
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at Allegheny 47, Oberlin 14
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Capital 33, at Muskingum 28
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at Grove City 42, Thiel 15
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at Heidelberg 49, Ohio Northern 17
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Otterbein 34, at Wilmington 24
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at Mount Union 49, Marietta 7
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at Rose-Hulman 70, Earlham 6
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Hanover 23, at Franklin 20
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Manchester 35, at Anderson 6
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at Bluffton 34, Defiance 7
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Alma 37, at Finlandia 0
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Bridgewater 42, at Ferrum 21
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at Huntingdon 42, LaGrange 14
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Carthage 38, at Augustana 9
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at Trinity (Texas) 21, Berry 17
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at Eureka 38, Rockford 7
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Rhodes 21, at Austin 14
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at Southwestern 59, Texas Lutheran 35
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at Hardin-Simmons 83, McMurry 6
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Gustavus Adolphus 29, at St. Olaf 20
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Centre 56, at Birmingham-Southern 20
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at Hamline 27, Augsburg 9
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at Concordia-Moorhead 51, Carleton 14
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Simpson 56, at Buena Vista 7
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Wartburg 47, at Dubuque 28
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at Martin Luther 47, Crown 18
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Central 37, at Loras 34
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at North Central (Ill.) 55, Millikin 12
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 79, Elmhurst 0
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at St. John's 63, Thomas More 23
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at Millsaps 28, Hendrix 21
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UW-Whitewater 49, at UW-Platteville 21
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Illinois Wesleyan 40, at North Park 13
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Cornell 13, at Lawrence 6
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at St. Norbert 10, Monmouth 7
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at Ripon 38, Knox 19
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Grinnell 41, at Beloit 31
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Illinois College 35, at Macalester 28
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at Bethel 21, St. Thomas 15
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UW-Stevens Point 39, at UW-River Falls 25
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, at East Texas Baptist 15
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at UW-Oshkosh 27, UW-Stout 13
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UW-La Crosse 42, at UW-Eau Claire 0
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Cal Lutheran 58, at Whittier 21
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Pacific Lutheran 28, at Lewis and Clark 14
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at Chapman 55, La Verne 34
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at Redlands 52, Occidental 20
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at Linfield 50, Pacific 7
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at Pomona-Pitzer 24, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 19
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at George Fox 62, Puget Sound 48
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Whitworth 52, at Willamette 0
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Final - OT
Carnegie Mellon 29, at Case Western Reserve 23
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Final
Belhaven 8, at Sul Ross State 0
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Nov. 10: All times Eastern
Final
Union 34, at RPI 10
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Final
Muhlenberg 53, at Moravian 7
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Final
at Johns Hopkins 42, McDaniel 17
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Final
Brockport 49, at Morrisville State 7
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Final
Trine 48, at Kalamazoo 18
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Final - OT
at Frostburg State 38, Salisbury 35
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Final
Wittenberg 27, at Wooster 21
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 33, at Waynesburg 14
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Final
at John Carroll 45, Baldwin Wallace 35
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Final
Delaware Valley 33, at Widener 0
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Final
at Mount Union 49, Marietta 7
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Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 79, Elmhurst 0
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Final
at Trinity (Texas) 21, Berry 17
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 83, McMurry 6
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Final
at St. John's 63, Thomas More 23
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Final
UW-Whitewater 49, at UW-Platteville 21
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 55, Millikin 12
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Final
Illinois Wesleyan 40, at North Park 13
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at Bethel 21, St. Thomas 15
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Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, at East Texas Baptist 15
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at Linfield 50, Pacific 7
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Final
Whitworth 52, at Willamette 0
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Final - OT
Carnegie Mellon 29, at Case Western Reserve 23
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