Willis Records Three Passing Touchdowns, Wildcat Defense Holds Umary To Four Yards Rushing

WAYNE – Thursday night football stole the show to open the 2021 NSIC collegiate football season with a six of seven games (12 of 14 teams) in action.

From Bob Cunningham Field on the campus of Wayne State College, WSC welcomed in University of Mary.

Thanks to four consecutive three-and-outs defensively in the first half, Wayne State College outlasted University of Mary’s second half passing attack during a 34-27 home victory. WSC starts the season at 1-0 while the Marauders fall to 0-1.

Wayne State College opened the game with early scoring possessions thanks to a 27-yard connection from sophomore Tavian Willis to senior Taurean Grady with 10:49 left in the first quarter. Junior placekicker Alex Powders then connected on a 29-yard field goal with 1:36 left in the quarter to put WSC up 10-0.

WSC would score once more early in the second quarter when Willis found freshman running back Jacob Keiser on a 30-yard pass and catch with 11:21 remaining in the opening half.

WSC led 17-0 at the half.

The Wildcats took their largest lead of the game following a 47-yard completion from Willis to senior Trystn Ducker to put the ‘Cats up 24-0 with 12:15 left in the third.

Powders connected on his second field goal from 32-yards out in-between a pair of Umary passing scores with 9:15 left in the third. Senior Logan Nelson found junior Danny Kittner on a 47-yard strike with 10:46 remaining and then senior Luke Little from 12-yards out later in the quarter (5:47 left).

After University of Mary pulled within two scores, senior running back Anthony Watkins rushed in from 18 yards out with 6:04 left in the game. Powders was perfect on PATs going 4-for-4.

The Marauders never gave up and after Nelson found Little from four-yards out with 2:41 remaining, Umary recovered an onside kick and Nelson connected with Kittner for the second time on the final play of the game from 15-yards out. No PAT was allowed as the final favored Wayne State College, 34-27.

The Wildcat defense shutdown the rushing attack of University of Mary who ran the ball 23 times for four yards. WSC used 34 rushing attempts for 188 yards.

Both quarterbacks shined as Willis finished 17-30 for 268 yards and three touchdowns while Nelson went 34-59 for 399 yards with four touchdowns but sacked six times.

Ducker had four receptions for 111 yards and a score while Grady caught five passes for 60 yards and a score.

Freshman safety Jacob Byrd posted a team-high eight tackles followed by junior linebacker Jaylan Scott and freshman linebacker Alex Kowalczyk with six each. Junior lineman Ryan Parker added two tackles for loss, two sacks and four total tackles while senior lineman Josh Taylor had two tackles for loss, a sack and three total tackles. Fellow lineman Luke Sims (junior) and Caleb Brouse (sophomore) both added sacks.


WSC vs. Umary:

1st 2nd Half 3rd 4th  Final:

0   0    0    14  13   27 – Umary

10  7   17   10    7   34 – WSC


The Wayne State College football team will next visit NSIC North Division foe Bemidji State University on Saturday, September 11 at 2 p.m.


Thursday, September 2:

Fayette, IA: Minnesota Duluth defeated Upper Iowa, 41-14

Mankato, MN: Minnesota State-Mankato defeated Northern State in OT, 40-34

Sioux Falls, SD: Bemidji State defeated Sioux Falls, 24-16

Marshall, MN: MSU Moorhead defeated Southwest Minnesota State, 33-21

Winona, MN: Winona State defeated Concordia-St. Paul, 47-6


Saturday, September 4:

Sioux Falls, SD: Augustana vs. Minot State at 1 p.m.