The Wayne State Wildcats put up a good fight Saturday afternoon against Upper Iowa to secure a road win with a score of 42-35 in Fayette, Iowa. WSC is now 3-7 with a 2-4 record in the NSIC South. The ’Cats faced a 21-0 deficit in the first half and needed to secure some points.
“[Going into the game] I challenged the kids to be more consistent,” head football coach, Dan McLaughlin said. “We’ve played really well at times and we’ve just not been consistently well and that was our focus this week was to try and put some good things together.”
With an interception off quarterback Aaron Bleil on the second play of the game, Ryan Parmely scored on a three yard run that put Upper Iowa in the lead against the ’Cats 7-0. Parmely came out to score again with a one-yard leap to put the Peacocks ahead 14-0. Upper Iowa then came out and scored early in the second quarter to put them ahead 21-0.
With the Peacocks scoring on the first three of their four possessions, which includes one off of a Wildcat turnover, the Wildcats needed to find some inspiration. On a kickoff, Aaron Wright fielded the ball from the ‘Cats 16-yard line and ran 84 yards to score, putting the Wildcats on the board.
With 8:27 left to play in the second quarter, following an Upper Iowa punt, the Wildcats went 84 yards in 12 plays with Bleil throwing a three-yard pass to score another touchdown making the score go to 21-14. With just over a minute left in the second quarter, WSC tied the game when Bleil scored yet again from four yards from the goal line. WSC went into halftime tied with Upper Iowa with a score of 21-21.
“We hadn’t started well, so my concern was well now we’re starting over because it was 21-21 at halftime and we had a 20 minute break, so now you’re starting over,” McLaughlin said. “We had started very poorly at the beginning of the game and now we’re starting the second half and I said let’s not make the same mistake twice and start poorly; let’s continue with the momentum that we’ve built so far. And they did.”
Wayne State came out after halftime to take the lead for the rest of the game when Upper Iowa punted the ball away and freshman Nicholas Joynt blocked the punt and recovered the ball in the endzone for a Wayne State touchdown taking the lead 28-21. A six-yard punt had the ball on the Peacocks 29-yard line. With 9:07 left in the third quarter, freshman QB Alex Thramer came in and guided the Wildcats to another scoring drive to put the ’Cats up 35-21.
“With how we came back there in the second quarter, I think it gave the guys some hope and they just wanted to finish it off,” defensive coordinator Scott McLaughlin said.
Later in the third quarter, WSC linebacker Tyler Thomsen intercepted the ball and ran 49 yards returning the ball to the 5-yard line. Marlon Warren scored his second touchdown of the game one play later to set a streak of 42 points scored straight putting WSC up 42-21.
The Peacocks got the ball back and rallied in the fourth quarter. Ryan Parmely scored with a one-yard run to make the score 42-28 with 14:22 left to play in the game and scored yet again on a six-yard pass from Brent Lammers to D.J. Emsweller with 2:54 left in the game to make the score 42-35. Upper Iowa got the ball one more time with an interception off of Thramer, which got them back at their own 49 with 2:38 left to play in the game. Wayne State came up with a 16-yard sack by Jacob Protzman and Josh Taylor and a 17-yard sack by Kolbie Foster on fourth down and WSC ran out the clock to secure the road win 41-35.
Wayne State ends the regular season next Saturday against Sioux Falls.