The UW-Oshkosh defense collected eight sacks and held UW-Eau Claire's vaunted rushing attack in check as the Titans rolled to a 31-3 homecoming victory over the Blugolds on Saturday (Oct. 19) at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
UW-Oshkosh (5-1, 3-0 WIAC) remained in the hunt for the league title by limiting UW-Eau Claire (3-3, 1-2) to just 63 rushing yards on 44 carries. The Blugolds, who mustered 36 yards on the ground (36 carries) over the final three quarters, went into the day averaging a WIAC-leading 203 rushing yards per game.
UW-Eau Claire's 1.4 yards per carry was its lowest since the 2016 campaign while its 1.9 yards per play was the program's worst this century. The Blugolds had not been held under 2 yards per play in any of their 208 games through the 1999 season.
UW-Oshkosh quarterback Kobe Berghammer passed for 114 yards, ran for a career-high 102 yards and accounted for three of the team's four rushing touchdowns. Berghammer, who went 11-for-27 passing, became the first Titan to rush for at least three scores since Dylan Hecker had four against Wartburg College (Iowa) during the quarterfinal round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Championship.
UW-Oshkosh's eight sacks were its most since recording nine in a 41-7 rout at UW-La Crosse on Oct. 27, 2012.
Six Titans notched sacks against the Blugolds, including Trenton LaCombe with two among his four tackles. Brady Heimer and Alex Jagla added 1.5 sacks apiece while Brandon Kolgen, Tory Jandrin and Tyler Watson each had one.
Nick Noethe paced UW-Oshkosh in tackles for the second straight week, registering eight Saturday after totaling a career-high 12 stops last Saturday (Oct. 12) against UW-Stevens Point. Connor Zirpel and Heimer chipped in seven and six tackles, respectively.
UW-Oshkosh, which avenged last year's 20-14 loss at UW-Eau Claire, finished the game with considerable advantages of 355-112 in scrimmage yards, 241-63 in rushing yards, 20-9 in first downs and 8-2 in sacks.
UW-Oshkosh opened the scoring on Berghammer's 7-yard touchdown run with 7:58 left in the first quarter. The rushing score capped an 11-play, 77-yard drive on the Titans' second possession of the game.
UW-Eau Claire answered less than five minutes later with a 22-yard field goal from Edgar Ficke-Anderson that trimmed the Blugolds' deficit to 6-3 at the 3:42 mark of the opening period. UW-Oshkosh then scored the first two of its 25 unanswered points on a safety as the Blugolds sailed a punt snap from their own 29-yard line through the back of the end zone. The safety gave the Titans an 8-3 advantage with 11:46 remaining in the second quarter.
Berghammer added a 14-yard touchdown run with 5:48 left in the second quarter, and Jaydon Haag's ensuing extra point extended the Titans' lead to 15-0 at halftime.
A Haag 32-yard field goal accounted for the only scoring during the third period as UW-Oshkosh took an 18-3 advantage into the final 15 minutes. Haag, who connected on a career-best 42-yard field goal earlier this season, has made all five of his field goal attempts on the year.
Berghammer then put the game away by shedding a tackler and racing 38 yards to the end zone. His fifth rushing touchdown of the year upped the Titans' lead to 24-3 with 14:05 remaining in the game.
Hess put the finishing touches on the Titan victory when he leapt for a 2-yard rushing touchdown at the 4:18 mark of the fourth quarter. Hess now has two rushing scores on the year.
UW-Eau Claire's Josiah Johnson went 9-for-15 passing for 49 yards.
WIAC leading rusher Austin Belot ran for 102 yards on 21 carries for the Blugolds. He entered the contest ranked fourth nationally with 144.2 rushing yards per game and 11th with eight scores on the ground while also pacing the conference at 6.2 yards per carry.
Will Adair's four receptions for 37 yards led UW-Eau Claire.
Victor Martinelli recorded a game-high nine tackles for the Blugolds, who also received seven stops from Carmelo Rosado and six tackles, including 1.5 sacks, from Alex Mashak.
With Saturday's victory UW-Oshkosh head coach Pat Cerroni became the 10th WIAC coach to reach 100 wins. Cerroni boasts a program-best 100-40 record during his 13 seasons at the helm, which include marks of 13-1 in 2012, 12-1 in 2017, 13-2 in 2016 and 11-2 in 2015. Cerroni guided the Titans to each of their four NCAA postseason appearances, leading UW-Oshkosh to the the 2016 Division championship game as well as trips to the national semifinals in both 2012 and 2017, and a quarterfinal appearance in 2015.
UW-Oshkosh, the winner of 25 consecutive regular season home games, travels to UW-La Crosse next Saturday (Oct. 26).