Turnovers, injuries plague Wildcats at Upper Iowa


Richard Rhoden

Shawn Barker celebrates a sack in a game earlier in the season.

Brenden Buskirk, Staff Writer

The Wildcats entered Harms-Eischeid Stadium in Fayette, Iowa, Saturday night in hopes of a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.

It was not to be, however, as the Peacocks routed the Wildcats 58-29.

The Wildcats got off to a hot start as senior middle linebacker Nick Monzu intercepted Upper Iowa quarterback Cole Jaeschke on the opening drive. Zach Osborn and the WSC offense drove 54 yards on nine plays and used a 14-yard pass from Osborn to Nick Roth to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.

On the next possession, WSC forced a Peacock punt that was blocked by Wildcat freshman Lane Yates and senior Chad Koch through the end zone for a safety, putting the ‘Cats in front 9-0 with 8:18 to go in the first quarter.

Later in the first quarter, Upper Iowa got on the scoreboard as senior running back Chris Smith found paydirt on a 41-yard run to trim the WSC lead to 9-7.

Wayne State responded on the ensuing drive, dominating the Peacocks, marching 75 yards on 17 plays and consuming 5:49 off the clock with Osborn finding fullback Tyler Johnson on a two-yard pass on fourth and goal, giving the Wildcats a 16-7 lead with 12:31 to play before halftime.

Unfortunately, at this point in the game, the tides turned, as Upper Iowa erupted in scoring and never looked back.

The Peacocks scored touchdowns on all four of their second quarter possessions, two of them coming off Wildcat interceptions, giving the Peacocks a commanding 36-16 lead at intermission.

There was a scoring drought in the third quarter, as WSC was able to move the ball while holding Upper Iowa to just 33 yards, but after gaining 107 yards, the ‘Cats had no points to show for it.

The lone score of the third quarter was on a safety for Upper Iowa as the Peacocks tackled WSC running back Ryan Ludlow in the end zone for two points with 12:10 to go in the third quarter.

The Wildcats scored on the first play of the fourth quarter as Osborn found junior wide receiver Brian Kent in the end zone on a one-yard pass play, capping a 74-yard drive, to make the score 38-22.

After forcing an Upper Iowa punt, WSC moved the ball from their own 35 to the UIU 11, but could not score and turned the ball over to the Peacocks on downs.

The flood gates were opened as Upper Iowa then put the game out of reach, scoring on their next three possessions in the fourth quarter.

Chris Smith scored on a 22-yard run for the first score.

The next score was the result of a Wildcat interception as Jaeschke connected with Derek Giesking on a 35-yard pass and the third score on a 57-yard run by Vincent Otdoerfer for the Peacocks.

Wayne State added a score in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard pass from Osborn to senior tight end Joe Trouba.

Upper Iowa held a 583-420 advantage in total offense over the Wildcats. The Peacocks were balanced with 226 on the ground and 357 passing while WSC gained 118 rushing and 302 passing.

Osborn completed 27 of 51 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions.

Roth had seven receptions for 96 yards and one score while senior Cole McDaniel added seven catches for 52 yards. Kent hauled in six receptions for 77 yards and one touchdown.

Senior wide receiver Adam stark did not play due to an injured leg; he is listed as probable for Saturday.

The Wildcats had five turnovers in the contest, resulting in 21 UIU points, while Upper Iowa had one turnover.

Chase Samuel led the Wayne State defense with nine tackles followed by Monzu with eight stops and one interception.

Wayne State will play its final home game of the 2014 season next Saturday against their toughest opponent, hosting powerhouse Minnesota State Mankato, ranked No. 1 in the nation. Kickoff for the annual Egg Bowl Game is set for 2 p.m. in Wayne.