Eight turnovers help Wildcats to 28-10 win over Upper Iowa

Eight Upper Iowa turnovers helped Wayne State bounce back to score 21 unanswered points in the second half and finish the 2017 football season with a 28-10 Egg Bowl win over the Peacocks Saturday at Cunningham Field.

Wayne State trailed 10-7 at halftime before mounting their second-half comeback in the 29th annual Egg Bowl Game, securing the team’s first winning season in five years as the Wildcats finished 6-5 overall and 4-3 in the NSIC South Division.

After a scoreless first quarter, Wayne State took advantage of a fumbled punt return by Upper Iowa as senior Reggie Holt recovered the ball at the Peacocks’ 16. Two plays later, senior fullback Houston Huss scored on an 11-yard run to put the Wildcats in front 7-0 with 12:52 to go second quarter.

Late in the second quarter, Upper Iowa scored twice in less than one minute to take a 10-7 lead. UIU quarterback Brent Lammers connected with Jarred Edmonds on a 21-yard scoring pass with 1:10 to go before halftime to tie the game, and then the Peacocks picked off quarterback Aaron Bleil at the Wildcat 21 and kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 10-7 at the half.

Wayne State took the lead for good late in the third when Bleil fired a two-yard pass to Layne Sullivan, giving the Wildcats a 14-10 lead entering the fourth quarter.

On the ensuing drive, Upper Iowa drove the ball to the Wayne State 25, where Aaron Wright picked off a pass and returned it 71 yards to the Peacocks’ 8-yard line. Bliel hit Nate Rogers three plays later to make it 21-10, allowing Rogers to tie the school record for touchdowns with 27, matching the record held by Jim Strahan from 1947-49.

The Wildcats put the game out of reach at the 9:46 mark of the fourth quarter, as Bliel hit Willie Walton with a 41-yard scoring strike to give the Wildcats the Egg Bowl victory.

Upper Iowa outgained Wayne State in the contest 393-227. Wayne State had 51 yards rushing and 176 passing while Upper Iowa gained 93 on the ground and 300 through the air.

Senior Rashad Trimble was the top rusher with 39 yards on eight carries followed by senior fullback Houston Huss with 13 rushes for 36 yards and one touchdown. Bleil completed 16 of 35 passes for 176 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Rogers hauled in seven catches for 49 yards and one score followed by Walton with six grabs for 103 yards and one touchdown. Sullivan finished with three receptions for 24 yards and a score.

Wayne State’s defense forced eight turnovers in the contest with five interceptions and three fumbles. Sophomore Ian Ailts had nine tackles and one fumble recovery while senior Emeka Etta had nine tackles with one forced fumble. Senior linebacker DeWayne Scott notched eight tackles with one interception while redshirt freshman linebacker Ben Elznic contributed eight tackles. Aaron Wright had five tackles and one interception while sophomore Shaq Paddy was named Egg Bowl MVP for the Wildcats with five tackles, two interceptions for 20 return yards and two pass breakups.

Senior Glenn Harris added five tackles with one fumble recovery for 22 yards and one interception, his eighth of the season that tied a single season school record.

Wide receiver Jarred Edmonds was named Egg Bowl MVP for Upper Iowa with nine catches for 132 yards and one touchdown.

The Wayne Herald

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