Football Season Recap Column

Kaitlynn Breeden, Editor-in-Chief

The Wayne State football team started out their fall season in a downpour, matching up against the University of Mary Marauders, which the Wildcats rained in a win at 34-27. The Wildcats took an early lead, thanks to sophomore Tavian Willis, ending the first half of the game 17-10. The lead by Willis’ gave the Wildcats the upper hand throughout the rest of the game.

The cats hoped to go continue their win streak at their second game against the Bemidji State Beavers. If the Wildcat’s would’ve won this game, they would’ve been 2-0 for the first time since 2012. However, the Beavers defeat the Wildcats 38-28. In a super spreader event of 3,800 people, the Bemidji State Beavers pushed past the Wildcat defense, ending the day with 565 totals. WSC quarterback Willis threw 203 yards and four touchdowns in four quarters of play.

Though WSC didn’t get the 2-0 they had hoped for, the team defeat the Minot State Beavers on their home field during WSC’s Family Day on Sept. 18. Junior kicker Alex Powders gave the Wildcats a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, with 12:23 left. Powder came in with another field goal at the end of the second quarter with 1:02 left at halftime. The Beaver’s didn’t have their best performance during this game, which gave WSC an advantage from the start to end. The beaver’s replacement quarterback, Dawson Maclearly, threw an interception to junior defensive back, Kevin Ransom, and made the score 27-0 at halftime.

The Wildcat’s continued to dominate threw the second half of the game, where quarterback Nick Bohn threw a 35-yard pass to senior wide receiver, Trystn Ducker, for a touchdown to extend the lead 34-0 to score the third quarter. The Wildcat’s won the game against Minot State 48-0 and celebrated with the Family Day parade firework show afterward. A star player this season appears to be defensive back Ransom, as he finished the night with two interceptions and five tackles.

With the WSC football team 2-1, they continue their season with their fourth game against Minnesota Duluth on Sept. 25. The Wildcat’s have struggled in the past to defeat the Duluth Bulldogs, their last win being in 2011, and came into this game looking for victory. The Wildcats drove the ball down the field into the Bulldog’s territory, stopped fourth and one, the dogs went three and out, and the Bulldog’s punted the ball back to the Wildcats. On the next drive, WSC quarterback threw an interception to the Wildcats 28-yard line, which caused the Bulldogs to score 5:34 left in the first quarter. The cats then drove the ball back down the field to tie the game 7-7 at the very beginning of the second quarter.

On the next drive the dogs fumbled the ball, recovered by cats on the bulldogs 23-yard line, which was then converted in a Wildcats 14-7 lead on a quarterback pass from Bohn. The Bulldogs then proceeded to have to punt the ball, then turned into another score for WSC on next drive, making it 21-7, still in the second quarter. The very next drive, dogs scored 75-yard touchdown run, turning it into a one possession game.

Next possession, cats third and one, Watkins had a 48-yard touchdown run, making it 28-14 WSC with 6:21 left in the second quarter. On the last drive of the half, the dogs drove down to WSC 5-yard line, and then scored a 5-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the half, making it a 28-21 game going into halftime. On the first drive of the second half, the dogs threw an interception, giving the ball away on their side of the field. Wildcats then had two penalties and forced to punt the ball. The dogs then put together a long 14-play drive that all came to an end when the Bulldogs fumbled on the 33-yard line.

Then the Wildcats couldn’t drive, leaving them to have to punt. But the punt was mishandled, by Powder, and he was tackled for loss at the WSC 9-yard line. Then on third down, dogs threw another interception in the end zone which was picked off by Ransom. The cats then were unable to put together a successful drive and gave the bulldogs back the ball at the end of the third quarter. The dogs then drove down the field, to score on a 6-yard rushing touchdown, making it a tie 28-28 game with 13:55 left in the fourth quarter.

After one unsuccessful drive from each team, WSC got the ball back with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter. During the drive there was two pass interference penalties on the dogs which got the ball to the 37-yard line, where Powders attempted a 35-yard field goal, which was successful, giving the cats a 31-28 lead with 2:25 left in the game. On the final drive of the game, the Cats forced another fumble thanks to freshman linebacker, Alex Kowalczyk, which allowed the Wildcats to end the game in the victory formation.

The Wildcat’s next game of the season was on Oct. 2, where WSC hosted the Winona State Warriors for the WSC Homecoming game. Both teams went into the game 3-1, though Winona State holds a commanding 20-4 lead in the all-time series against the Wildcats and has won five straight and nine of the last 10 matchups. Two years ago, in Winona the Warriors topped the Wildcats 37-20 in the 2019 season opener. WSC’s last win in the series came on 2014 homecoming in Wayne, a 27-7 victory over then #25 Winona State. With all this information in mind, the Wildcats dominated Winona state for the first time since 2014, with a 38-21 win on Oct. 2.

The Wildcats are off to a 4-1 start for the first time since 2012 season while Winona State drops to a 3-2. For the second straight game, the Wildcat offense rode a 28-point second quarter to fuel the Wayne State victory. The Wildcats marched 56-yards to start the game but missed a 23-yard field goal. Winona State then drove 80-yards down the field to score the first touchdown of the game. WSC then erupted, starting the second quarter scoring on four straight possessions. The first score of the game was a 3-yard run .15 seconds into the second quarter to tie the game.

Winona State then just needed 23-seconds to take the lead on a 28-yard touchdown pass. The Wildcats then had an interception on the next drive, with Bohn scoring on a 5-yard run, taking the lead for the Wildcats 21-14. Following a punt, the Wildcats drove 59-yards down the field, scoring a touchdown on a 2-yard run, now leading the game 28-14. Winona State then scored a 2-yard touchdown themselves to end the half 28-21. The Wildcats then played a shutout in the second half and scored twice to seal a 38-21 win.

WSC lost to the Augustana Vikings during their next game on Oct. 16. The Vikings opened the scoring on a 31-yard touchdown pass, putting them up 7-0 with 9:19 left in the first quarter. The Wildcats then scored a 25-yard field goal making the score 7-3. The Vikings then scored another touchdown pass, this time being a 20-yarder, making the score 14-3. The Vikings then scored a 43-yard field goal with 9:14 left in the second quarter.

The Wildcats then drove up the field ending the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, making the score 17-10 at intermission. The Vikings opened the second half with a 25-yard field goal. Midway through the third quarter, the Vikings scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass to go up 26-10. The Wildcats then responded a minute later with a 48-yard touchdown pass, to make the score 26-17. The Vikings then scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, on an 18-yard touchdown pass. The Wildcats then put up the final points of the game with 4:23 left in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard touchdown pass, making the final score 32-24.

Wayne State’s second to last football game was on Oct. 23., where Wayne State gained 304 yard in the first half, racing to a 31-3 halftime lead, and finished with a 38-16 Northern Sun Conference Football victory over Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Minnesota at Mattke Field. The Wildcats took the opening drive of the ball game and marched 71-yards on just five plays with Taurean Grady on the receiving end of a 53-yard play scoring pass form redshirt quarterback Bohn to put WSC up early 7-0 at the 12:41 mark of the first quarter.

The first score was a 24-yard pass from Bohn to Anthony Watkins giving the Wildcats a 14-3 lead with 5:12 left in the first quarter. The next score was created by a Rex Becker blocked punt that gave WSC the ball at the SMSU 31. The Wildcats scored again on the first play of the second quarter, a one-yard run by Watkins, to put Wayne State ahead 21-3 with 14:55 to go before halftime. The Wildcats closed first half scoring on a 42-yard field goal by Powders for a 31-3 lead at intermission.

SMSU opened the second half with a 75-yard drive, scoring on a Jesse Sherwood 11-yard run to make the score 31-10. Wayne State scored on its lone possession of the third quarter as Watkins found the end zone on a 9-yard line run to cap a 10-play, 51-yard drive for a 38-10 advantage. Wayne State finished with 390-257 advances in total offense over the Mustangs. The Wildcats had 185 rushing yards and 205 passing. SMSU gained 99 yards on the ground and 158 through the air.

Wayne State suffered a shocking overtime loss 42-21 against Upper Iowa. Four turnovers and two blocked kicks turned into 14 Upper Iowa points and the Peacocks used a blocked PAT kick in overtime to shock the WSC score on Oct. 30. WSC drops to 6-3 and 3-2 in the NSIC South while UIU is now 1-8 and 1-3 in divisional play. Wayne State took the opening drive and marched 60-yards on nine plays with redshirt Bohn finding the end zone on a one-yard run for an early 7-0 Wildcat lead.

Upper Iowa wasted little to no time in responding as freshman quarterback Marcus Orr fired a 69-yard scoring strike to DJ Emsweller to tie the score 7-7 with 9:56 to play first quarter. Early in the second quarter, the Peacocks took advantage of a Wildcat turnover as sophomore running back Desean Phillips produced a 2-yard touchdown run, giving Upper Iowa a 14-7 lead at the 13:13 mark of the second quarter. Later in the quarter following a WSC punt, Upper Iowa marched 64-yards on eight plays with Orr throwing a 22-yard pass to Phillips for a touchdown, putting the Peacocks in front of 21-7 with 5:27 left go before halftime.

Upper Iowa opened the second half scoring by forcing a Wildcat interception at the WSC 20-yard line. Phillips scored his third touchdown of the day on a two-yard run putting the Peacocks ahead 35-14. Early in the fourth quarter, WSC was driving inside UIU territory when Bohn was hit and fumbled at the UIU 40-yard line. The Peacocks returned the ball to the WSC 35-yard line and moved to the nine. But WSC stopped the drive, and the Peacocks missed a 26-yard field goal to keep the score 35-28.

Wayne State then drove down the field form their own 20-yard line and got a four-yard pass from Orr to Emsweller to take a 42-35 lead. WSC needed just two plays to answer as Grady ran 7-yards for a touchdown, but the PAT kick was blocked by Upper Iowa, allowing the Peacocks to come away with the surprising 42-21 win in overtime.

Wayne State is off to an excellent start to the season, having one of their best seasons in a while. It seems like they’re getting very excellent defensive play, and the redshirt quarterback, Bohn, seems to be playing very well. Wayne State will play again Saturday, Nov. 6, hosting Sioux Falls in a NSIC South Division game at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne.