Close call for the Wildcats in 41-30 loss


Aahron Young

Sophomore Shymere Williams, who led a balanced receiving group with seven catches for 125 yards, catches a pass before being swarmed by Minnesota State defenders. The Mavericks overcame an early deficit to take down the Wildcats 41-30 in NSIC play.

Shawn Henley, Staff Writer

Wayne State football fell short on Senior Day against Minnesota State, ending the game 41-30. Minnesota State improved to 7-3 overall and Wayne State fell to 3-7.
MSU got off to a quick start as quarterback Nick Pieruccini scored on a six-yard scamper just 52 seconds into the game to give the Mavericks a 7-0 lead. On the Wildcats’ first possession, freshman kicker Ethan Knudson booted a 19-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
WSC freshman Shaq Paddy intercepted Pieruccini’s pass at the 43-yard line to halt MSU’s second drive with 7:51 left in the first quarter. Junior quarterback Zach Osborn connected with sophomore tight end Keaton Slaughter from eight yards out to give the Wildcats a 10-7 lead. Following a blocked punt by freshman Odessa Clark, Osborn found junior receiver Nate Rogers on an 11-yard touchdown pass; extending the lead to 17-7.
“It was positive in that we started fast, it was negative in that we weren’t farther ahead,” Defensive Coordinator Scott McLaughlin said. “They just wore us out physically, especially up front. They just kept running it at us, and it wore us out by the fourth quarter.”
Minnesota State controlled most of the second quarter as Pieruccini threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Erik Fuller with 11:45 left in the quarter. Kicker Anders Gelecinskyj kicked a 21-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the second quarter to tie the game 17-17 heading into halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Gelecinskyj kicked a 32-yard field goal, giving the Mavericks their second lead of the game, 20-17. At the 5:41 mark of the third, MSU scored again as Pieruccini ran it in for the second time from three yards out, extending the Maverick lead to 27-17.
WSC cut into the lead as Osborn found senior Nick Roth on 52-yard strike making the score 27-24. The Mavericks responded on the ensuing drive and scored on 15 plays as Pieruccini threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Fuller for his second touchdown reception of the game, making the score 34-24.
Junior Rashad Trimble scored on the Wildcats’ next possession from 14-yards out, cutting the lead to 34-30. With 6:14 left in the fourth quarter, Pieruccini found Justin Arnold on a 19-yard touchdown pass, for the final score of the game.
“It was a combination of things; we couldn’t stop their run game and just couldn’t get off the field,” Head Coach Dan McLaughlin said. “We weren’t able to convert some third and shorts. That cost us and we were too far behind to catch up.”
Osborn led the Wildcat rushing attack with 27 yards on 15 carries. Trimble had 22 yards on two carries and scored once. Osborn completed 28 of 43 attempts for 386 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Shymere Williams totaled seven catches for 125 yards, Sam Wegner had five receptions for 73 yards, Nate Rogers had four receptions for 58 yards and one score, and Nick Roth had two catches for 61 yards and a touchdown reception.
Senior Jarrod Bazata and redshirt freshman Tyler Thomsen led WSC’s defense with eight tackles between the two. Freshman Shaq Paddy and Benjamin Walls both had interceptions for the Wildcats.
WSC will close the 2016 season on the road this Saturday facing the University of Sioux Falls Cougars. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m at Bob Young Field in Sioux Falls.
“[I feel] grateful and gratified for the senior’s efforts and all of the time and hard work they’ve put over five years here. For the underclassmen, do everything you can to send the seniors out on a good note,” McLaughlin said.