The Blue Devils gave it a ride, but it wasn’t enough to upset the fifth-ranked Titans in the last football game of the season as the University of Wisconsin-Stout fell to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a score of 27-18 on Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Senior running back Eric Brown, from St. Paul, Minn., led all players with 222 combined yards from scrimmage –136 yards on the ground and 86 yards through the air with a touchdown reception.
Brown’s 222 all-purpose yards were the third-highest output by an offensive player this year in the WIAC and fourth overall; Zak Snell, a sophomore from Castaic, Calif., had 234 all-purpose yards earlier this season on eight kickoff returns against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
“There was a slim chance of me getting out there again so I just left it all on the field,” said Brown.
His big day wasn’t enough, though, as the Blue Devils saw all of their scoring in the second quarter.
The Titans’ up-tempo offense was the key to victory as each of their first two scoring drives came in less than three minutes. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the Titans’ offense came onto the field and covered 67 yards on four plays, which lasted just under a minute and a half to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The Titan’s offense got right back on the field as another three-and-out was forced during the Blue Devils’ ensuing drive, and UW-Oshkosh drove to the end zone covering 63 yards on eight plays in less than two and a half minutes.
The second quarter was owned by the Blue Devils’ offense. The first of Brown’s two big plays came midway through the quarter with a reception. Coming out of the backfield, Brown took a five-yard pass from Hank Kujak, a sophomore from Blair, Wis., and raced past the Titan’s defense for 61 yards to the end zone. The Blue Devils chose to go for two, and Tyler Naatz, a sophomore from Menomonie, Wis., converted on the try to cut the Titan’s lead to 14-8.
The Blue Devils’ next drive resulted in another big play to the end zone. Near midfield, Kujak was flushed out of the pocket and heaved a 50-yard pass to Trevor Mourning, a junior from Bloomer, Wis., who had to come back for the under-thrown ball and fell into the end zone on the 54-yard touchdown reception. The score gave the Blue Devils a 15-14 lead and with three seconds left in the first half, Ricky Marteney, a junior from Greenfield, Wis., extended UW-Stout’s lead to 18-14.
“Coming into this game, we knew they were going to come out wanting to win, so we just came out with a lot of fire and energy,” said Brown.
The second quarter ended with a strong showing for the Blue Devils’ offense, but the lead was short-lived as the Titans came out of the locker room and drove 75 yards on 11 plays to score on their first drive of the half and took the lead for good.
Two more field goals, one in the third quarter and another one in the fourth quarter, clinched the victory for the Titans as they take an undefeated record into the playoffs. The Blue Devils gave the Titans a scare, but it was nothing unusual.
“Every Senior Day, there is extra motivation because these guys know this is going to be the last time they will play together, so naturally everybody steps up their game to another level,” said head coach Clayt Birmingham. “We had a good group of seniors and they all played hard today.”
“To go against the number one team in our conference that’s undefeated and to have a chance to win it at the end just shows the type of fight in our kids,” said Birmingham. “We never gave up, and that was driven by the senior class.”
In front of his family and friends, Brown gave the Blue Devils fans something to remember.
“My two years here have been a nice run; I don’t regret anything, and I love all of my teammates,” said Brown. “I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else but them.”