Ahead for 14 seconds

Wildcats score first but quickly lose lead to Sioux Falls

Mason Schweizer, Staff Writer

After an impressive opening drive capped off by a 23-yard field-goal by Sam Simon, the Wayne State Wildcats led the seventh-ranked Sioux Falls Cougars.

That lead lasted 14 seconds.

Sioux Falls’ Kyle Groenweg returned the following kickoff a school-record 99 yards to put the Cougars up, and they never looked back, routing the Wildcats 59-10 at Bob Cunningham Field on Saturday.

The loss drops WSC’s record to 3-2 and 0-1 in the NSIC South.

After Luke Papillion added a passing and rushing touchdown to give the Cougars a 21-3 lead after the first quarter, Wildcat fullback Houston Huss punched in a two-yard run to bring the Wildcats within 11. However, this would be the last time the Wildcats found the scoreboard.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half,” head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “Two question­able penalties on third and long and the kickoff return put us behind the eight ball so to speak, and you sim­ply cannot do that against teams of this caliber.”

Sioux Falls took a 28-10 lead into the locker room and added 28 more points in the third quarter to put the game away. A 42-yard Brett Garner field-goal midway through the final quarter ended the scoring.

The Wildcats were outgained by Sioux Falls 466-244. Taylor Reedy completed 18-32 passes for 174 yards and two interceptions. Ryan Ludlow led the Wildcats lackluster rushing attack with 44 yards on 18 attempts, with half of those yards coming on one play.

Leading receiver Marcel Dunson left in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return. An MRI is scheduled later in the week to determine the severity of his injury.

The usually reliant offensive line for WSC allowed multiple sacks for the first time all year, and the three sacks given up were the most the Wildcats have allowed since surrendering three to Upper Iowa last season.

Though the final outcome was not one that the Wildcats liked, McLaughlin took some positives away from the contest and was proud of the fight his team showed.

“I looked out on the field one possession and saw all three of our receivers, our tight end, left tackle and quarterback were all freshmen. Sioux Falls didn’t have a freshman in uniform, let alone on the field,” McLaughlin said. “We were physi­cally overmatched this time, but that won’t always be the case. The future of Wayne State football is bright.”

The Wildcats will look to bounce back in their homecoming game Saturday, welcoming the 4-1 South­west Minnesota State Mustangs to Bob Cunningham Field at 1 p.m.

The ‘Cats defeated SMSU in a 48-45 thriller last season in Marshall, Minn. Head coach Dan McLaughlin will look to take sole possession of the school all-time wins record, currently tied with Del Stoltenberg at 62 wins.