WAYNE – On a night that Nate Rogers sets the all-time career touchdown reception list and extends the record, the Wayne State College football team began with NSIC South competition Thursday night.
From Bob Cunningham Field, nearly 2,000 fans made way to Memorial Stadium to view the newly renovated press box and support the Wildcat football team during their season opener.
Wayne State College turned the ball over four times, which allowed #21 Winona State University to score 17 points from a pair of interceptions and two fumbles. WSC got within three points three times from going into the locker room and throughout the second half, but the Warriors never gave up the lead to win 41-28 and open their season 1-0 while the ‘Cats start the year at 0-1.
#21 Winona State University started off scoring with a one-play, 53-yard run to lead 7-0 early in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter the Warriors added to their lead with a 23-yard passing touchdown and following the PAT, led 14-0.
The Wildcat offense started to turn the tide when senior Nate Rogers caught hist 28th career touchdown surpassing Jim Strahan (1947-49) from junior quarterback, Aaron Bleil on a 34-yard pass. WSC would knot the game back up with another Bleil to Rogers touchdown, this time from 11-yards out. Junior placekicker Ethan Knudson went two-for-two on PAT’s in the opening half.
Right before half, WSU would knock through at 26-yard field goal to lead 17-14 at the break.
The third quarter went back-and-forth with Winona State capitalizing on the second Wildcat fumble, this time from a high-snap near the goal line picked up and ran in for six. Following the PAT, WSU led 24-14, 12 seconds into the second half. Wayne State College answered later in the quarter when Bleil hooked up with Rogers for the third time on a 16-yard pass deflected off the hands of junior Willie Walton.
Up 24-21, Winona State put together their second 10+ play drive capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass to go back up 31-21 late in the third quarter.
In the fourth, ‘the Cats struck first as Bleil found sophomore tight end Conner Paxton on a four-yard strike. After Knudson drove through his fourth extra-point, WSC pulled within three points one more time, down 31-28.
Winona State would score the final 10 points from a 34-yard field goal and 10-yard passing touchdown for a final of 41-28.
Winona State outgained WSC on the ground 202-60 yards as the ‘Cats won the air battle, 355-248 yards. Overall, the Warriors ran 79 plays to gain 450 yards while Wayne State used 61 plays to record 415 total yards.
Bleil finished with 24-for-37 completions, throwing four touchdown while being intercepted twice. Rogers was targeted 11 times for 195 yards with three touchdowns, Walton grabbed five receptions for 86 yards, redshirt freshman Jamal Albousafi added four catches for 39 yards as did Paxton on three receptions with a touchdown. In the running department it was all sophomore Marlon Warren with 18 carries for 59 yards.
Defensively for the ‘Cats, junior linebacker Tyler Thomsen recorded 12 tackles (seven solo), followed by junior strong safety Ian Ailts with nine tackles (seven solo) and a tackle for loss as junior linebacker Kolbie Foster picked up eight tackles (five solo) and a tackle for loss. Junior lineman MJ Blankenfeld had the lone Wildcat sack for a loss of one yard.
Scoring by quarter:
1st 2nd Half 3rd 4th Final
7 10 17 14 10 41 – #21 Winona State University
0 14 14 7 7 28 – Wayne State College
Wayne State College will be off for nine days before opening their road conference schedule with another South Division opponent on Saturday, September 8. WSC will visit Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Minnesota at 6 p.m. Join Voice of the Wildcats, Aaron Scheffler on Big Red Country 104.9 and online at waynedailynews.com with pregame coverage set for 5:30 p.m. on the Wildcat Sports Network.
NSIC Thursday night score:
#3 Minnesota State-Mankato defeats Southwest Minnesota State, 49-13
Northern State defeats Bemidji State, 38-17
Minnesota Duluth defeats Minot State, 49-3
St. Cloud State defeats University of Mary, 14-13
MSU Moorhead defeats Minnesota Crookston, 34-10
#20 Sioux Falls defeats Concordia-St. Paul, 27-24
Saturday, September 1:
Augustana at Upper Iowa – 6 p.m.