WSC wins on the road after falling to Moorhead

First shutout for the ’cats since the 2011 season

Blake Hilkemeir, Staff Writer

The Wayne State Wildcats football team went to battle Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 against Minnesota State University-Moorhead and Minot State.

The first game was played at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne, Nebraska.

The Wildcats fought hard, gaining a 15 – 9 lead heading into the second half. The Wildcats were led offensively by alternating freshman quarterbacks Brady Brandsfield and Alex Thramer.

“The past few games we’ve been alternating about every other series,” Thramer said. “It’s not perfect by any means but it gives us the best chance to win and it gives each of us an equal opportunity to show what we got.”

Both quarterbacks were playing very well, but the Wildcats still found themselves down 19 – 15 heading into the 4th quarter.

After Brandsfield received a concussion midway through the quarter, it was up to Thramer to try to give the Wildcats the lead with time ticking down.

“We just ran a couple plays, executed them, and I gave the ball to Nate (Rogers) and he was able to make a great play and it got us the lead,” Thramer said.

The Wildcats took a three-point lead with just over 5 minutes remaining in the game. But MSUMoorhead quickly retaliated with a field goal of their own, eventually sending the game into overtime.

The Wildcats were given the ball first to start overtime, but after getting the ball down to the seven yard line, MSUM was able to pick off Thramer, which would eventually lead to them ending the game with touchdown pass on the first play of their possession in overtime.

“There’s definitely a lot of learning experiences to be taken from this game,” Thramer said, “We left a lot of points on the field. But we’ve been playing a lot better as of late. We’re a young team and we’re just taking a lot from each game right now.”

Despite the game ending in a loss for the Wildcats, they played solid all-around, only allowing one turnover the whole game, which had been a struggle for them in the previous few weeks of the season.

“I was very pleased with the amounts of turnovers this game,” head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “Each week we’re getting better, and that is definitely a thing I want to keep the kids focused on. We’ve gotten better in a lot of areas throughout the year.”

The second game was played Oct. 20 in Minot, North Dakota. This time the game resulted in a different outcome for the Wildcats.

Junior Aaron Bleil made his return at quarterback for the Wildcats, following his injury that had left him on the sidelines over the past few weeks.

Bleil made his presence felt, throwing for 185 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in his return.

“Aaron brings a different dimension to what we do,” offensive coordinator Brian Frana said. “He’s a great passer. He did a great job managing the game and giving us throws we might not have had otherwise.”

To back up Frana’s passing game, sophomore running back Maliki Wilson came up big on the ground, rushing for 145 yards and one touchdown.

“Maliki has been getting better and better each week.” Frana said, “He’s found a rhythm the last two weeks. He just has a really good feel for the run game and what we’re doing.”

The last key component to the Wildcat’s success was the defense, which recorded it’s first shutout since the 2011 season.

“Our defense has done a nice job all year.” Frana said. “They’ve got some great playmakers. Our offense was finally able to play a good game with them. When they would get a stop, we would score, and when we would score, they were able to get a stop.”

The Wildcats host the number one team in the conference, the Minnesota State Mavericks, this upcoming Saturday at Bob Cunningham Field