Defense leads UW-Oshkosh to 10-3 win over John Carroll
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin-Oshkosh finally got sick of seeing the same three teams battle it out for an NCAA Division III championship.
The Titans defense forced three turnovers in a 10-3 win over John Carroll on Saturday, making Oshkosh the first team other than Mount Union, Wisconsin-Whitewater or St. Thomas to make the Stagg Bowl since Linfield in 2004.
''I think it is about time,'' Oshkosh coach Pat Cerroni said. ''I've been in Division III now for 16 years and 11 as a head coach and nothing makes me more sick than seeing the same teams go. To be one of the teams that's different, that's a pretty proud moment.''
In fact, none of the trio are in the finals as the Titans will face Mary Hardin Baylor, a 14-12 winner over Mount Union, for the title.
Oshkosh (13-1) intercepted Blue Streaks quarterback Anthony Moeglin three times and kept John Carroll (12-2) out of the end zone. The Titans gained just 214 yards of total offense and scored its fewest points of the season.
''It was a defensive battle, obviously,'' Cerroni said. ''They have a tremendous defense. We knew this was going to be a dogfight, and it was. Their defense is great, but maybe ours is pretty good too.''
After a scoreless first half, Oshkosh took the opening drive of the third quarter 71 yards in nine plays to go up 7-0 on a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brett Kasper.
''They just went wildcat (formation),'' John Carroll defensive back Jovon Dawson said. ''We had to bow up and get tough. It wasn't like it was anything special. They went wildcat and went right at us.''
An interception by Christian Bettin set up a 31-yard field goal by Eli Wettstein that made it 10-0 with 10:12 left.
John Carroll, which was shutout through three quarters for the first time since 2010, got on the board on a 24-yard field goal by Matt Danko with 5 minutes to play.
''At the end of the day, it is about executing,'' John Carroll coach Tom Arth said. ''At certain times we did not execute like we are capable of. A lot of that has to do with Wisconsin-Oshkosh and its defense.''
The Blue Streaks got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with no timeouts and 1:48 to play. John Carroll advanced the ball to the 35-yard line of Oshkosh with 12 seconds left. After a spike, Branden Lloyd sacked Moeglin and the clock expired.
''It took everybody on our defense, including dudes that were third on our depth chart like Christian Bettin with an interception,'' Oshkosh defensive back Cameron Brown said. ''We just played as a unit.''
John Carroll: The Blue Streaks' only two losses came at the hands of Oshkosh. John Carroll fell, 33-14, to the Titans in the opening game of the season on Sept. 3. The Blue Streaks were playing in their second-ever Division III semifinal and their first since 2002.
Oskosh: The Titans will be making their first trip to the Stagg Bowl for the Division III championship game. Oshkosh lost 28-14 to St. Thomas in a semifinal in 2012.
John Carroll: The Blue Streaks entered averaging 35.2 points and 397.5 yards of total offense per game. Oshkosh limited John Carroll to just 264 yards of offense, including 107 rushing yards on 30 attempts.
Oskosh: With their three interceptions Saturday, the Titans have now forced 15 turnovers and have given the ball up just twice in four playoff games.
Oskosh: Oshkosh faces Mary Hardin-Baylor in the Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va. on Friday.