Wildcats drops season opener at Winona State
A fourth-quarter comeback was not enough for the Wayne State College football team, as they dropped their season opener Saturday with a 37-20 setback at Winona State.
Warrior placekicker Paul Ortiz booted a 25-yard field goal on the first series of the game for Winona State to account for the lone first quarter scoring. He connected on two more field goals in the second quarter – 33 and 27 yards – combined with an Owen Burke scoring pass of six yards to Dakota Matthees to give Winona State a 16-0 lead at halftime.
The Warriors took a 23-0 lead late in the third quarter when Burke fired a 31-yard scoring strike to Tyler Knutson, but Wayne State mounted a fourth-quarter comeback to make things interesting.
The Wildcats got on the board early in the fourth quarter when redshirt freshman quarterback Andy McCance found Taurean Grady on a four-yard scoring play to make the score 23-7.
Winona State added two more scores to take a 37-7 lead at the 7:57 mark of the contest, but Aaron Wright returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to make it 37-14 with 7:41 to play, marking the third straight season that Wright has returned a kickoff for a touchdown. It was also his second career 100-yard return for a score.
Wayne State closed the scoring with 1:29 to play when Wayne sophomore Mason Lee grabbed a nine-yard scoring pass from McCance, but the Wildcats wouldn’t get any closer as the Warriors came away with the win.
Winona State outgained Wayne State in the contest 546-372. The Warriors produced 324 yards through the air and 222 on the ground while the Wildcats collected 88 yards rushing and 284 passing.
McCance completed 21-of-37 passes for 284 yards with two TD’s and three interceptions. Lee grabbed five receptions for 72 yards and one score followed by Grady with five catches for 68 yards and one TD. Senior tight end Conner Paxton added four grabs for 56 yards. McCance led Wayne State in rushing with 47 yards on 14 attempts.
Defensively, junior Kevin Ransom recorded a career-best 16 tackles. Ian Ailts, Zaiden Hernandez and Jalen Burgess were each credited with eight stops.
Wayne State will be at home Saturday, hosting Southwest Minnesota State in the annual Family Day contest with kickoff set for 6 p.m. at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne.