Wildcats open 2021 season with 34-27 win over Mary
The start of the John McMenamin era may have been delayed by a year, but the wait was worth it as the new Wayne State football coach got his first win as the Wildcats' mentor in a 34-27 victory over University of Mary on Thursday at Cunningham Field.
The Wildcats did most of their damage early, scoring on three of their first four possessions of the game.
Tavian Willis threw the first of three scores on the night with a 27-yarder to Taurean Grady for a 7-0 Wildcat advantage. Wayne State made it 10-0 later in the period on a 29-yard field goal by Alex Powders.
Early in the second, Willis hit Jacob Keiser with a 30-yard pass to make it 17-0 and the Wildcats held that advantage through the end of the first half.
On Wayne State’s first possession of the second half, they extended the lead to 24-0 when Willis hit Trystn Ducker for a 47-yard score with 12:15 to go in the third.
But Mary would come back and make a game of it, scoring on the ensuing possession on a 47-yard pass from Logan Nelson to Danny Kittner.
After a 32-yard field goal by Powders made it 27-7, Mary scored again late in the third when Nelson hit Luke Little for a 12-yard pass to make it 27-14.
Mary had a chance to cut the lead to 10, but missed a field goal early in the fourth quarter. Wayne State countered with a drive that ended in an 18-yard run by Anthony Watkins to make it 34-14.
Mary scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes, the last coming as time expired as the Wildcats went on to post the win.
Wayne State had a 456-403 advantage in total yards. Willis was 17-of-30 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Grady had five catches for 60 yards and a score while Ducker had four receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Watkins led the ground attack with 76 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively, Jacob Byrd led the team in tackles with eight and Jaylan Scott had six. Ryan Parker had two of WSC’s five quarterback sacks and had four tackles overall.
The Wildcats are on the road next Saturday, Sept. 11 at Bemidji State. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.