Wildcats come back, beat Upper Iowa 42-35
Wayne State scored 42 unanswered points to erase a 21-0 first half deficit, highlighted by a pair of special teams touchdowns, as the Wildcats outlasted Upper Iowa 42-35 Saturday afternoon at Harms-Eischeid Stadium in Fayette, Iowa.
The host Peacocks scored on three of their first four possessions, including one off a Wildcat turnover, to take a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Wildcats came roaring back.
Wildcat quarterback Aaron Bleil was intercepted on the second play of the game with Upper Iowa’s Jordan Wymer returning the interception 38 yards to the Wayne State 3. Ryan Parmely scored on a three-yard run and the Peacocks held a 7-0 lead just 30 seconds in the game.
Parmely scored again on a one-yard plunge at the 8:05 mark to put Upper Iowa in front 14-0 and the Peacocks struck again early in the second quarter for a 21-0 advantage on a Antoine Conner 16-yard run with 14:14 to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wildcat senior Aaron Wright fielded the ball from his own 16-yard line and raced 84 yards for a score, getting the Wildcats on the board, trailing 21-7.
After an Upper Iowa punt, the Wildcats marched 84 yards on 12 plays with Bleil throwing a three-yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver Nate Rogers to make it 21-14 with 8:27 to play second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Wayne State tied the game on another Bleil-to-Rogers scoring play, this one from four yards with 1:05 to play before halftime, to tie the game at 21-21 at the break.
Wayne State took the lead for good on the first series of the third quarter as freshman Nicholas Joynt blocked an Upper Iowa punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, giving Wayne State a 28-21 lead.
Wayne State forced another three-and-out by Upper Iowa, and after a six-yard punt, had the ball at the Peacock 29. Alex Thramer came in at quarterback and led the Wildcats to another scoring drive, culminating in a Marlon Warren one-yard run to put the Wildcats ahead 35-21 with 9:07 to play third.
Later in the period, Wayne State linebacker Tyler Thomsen intercepted an Upper Iowa pass and covered 49 yards, returning the ball to the Peacocks’ 5-yard line. Warren scored his second touchdown of the quarter on the next play to cap the 42-point streak, giving Wayne State a 42-21 lead.
Upper Iowa rallied in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns and had a chance to tie the game after an interception with 2:38 to go, but the Wildcat defense came up big with sacks of 12 yards by Jacob Protzman and Josh Taylor and a 17-yard sack by Kolbie Foster on fourth down to seal the victory.
Maliki Wilson led the Wildcat rushing attack with 63 yards on 28 carries while Thramer gained 26 yards on five rushes. Marlon Warren had three carries for six yards and two scoring runs.
Quarterback Aaron Bleil completed 11-of-21 passes for 112 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions while Thramer was 2-of-4 with one interception for 37 yards. Nate Rogers had four catches for 60 yards and two scores, with sophomore tight end Conner Paxton adding three catches for 35 yards.
Tyler Thomsen recorded a game-high 15 tackles with one interception and one breakup to lead the defense. Emile Hope contributed 11 tackles and one pass breakup.
Wayne State (3-7, 2-4 NSIC South) closes the regular season next Saturday with a 1 p.m. game at Sioux Falls.