Warrior Football Takes Back The Sledge
The Winona State Warrior Football team won the Second Annual “Battle For The Sledge” on November 5, with a 42-27 win over Southwest Minnesota State at Maxwell Field.
The game started out as a back-and-forth battle. Paul Preston got things going early on, when he took the opening kickoff 49 yards, setting up the Warrior offense. Jack Nelson would use that field position on a quick 3-play drive, finding Cameron Johnson for a 21 yard TD pass to give the Warriors an early 7-0 lead.
Southwest would strike effectively on their first possession. A 15-play drive would end with Max Simmons tying the game on a 7 yard TD run.
The back-and-forth continued when Paul Preston ran into the end zone from 24 yards out to give the Warriors a 14-7 lead after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter, Ryan Cain forced a Mustang fumble giving the Warriors a shot to expand their lead. During the ensuing drive, Senior Quarterback Jack Nelson would become the all-time leading passer in NSIC history, as well as the all-time leading passer of any Minnesota NCAA school, connecting with Connor Schulz on a 16-yard pass. The Warriors had planned to stop the game to honor Nelson, but could only get a PA announcement in, as Nelson waived off the stoppage to keep going on the drive. Nelson led the Warriors into field goal range, and Carter McCauley booted a 35-yard field goal to make the score 17-7, Warriors.
The Mustangs turned to Freshman phenom Max Simmons on the first play of their next drive, and he responded again, with a 77-yard TD run to tighten the score at 17-14.
The Warriors would respond, as Nelson would find Cameron Johnson again for a 21 yard TD pass to end the scoring in the first half, with WSU up 24-14. During the game, Johnson would surpass 2500 receiving yards in his career, becoming just the 7th Wide Receiver in school history to reach that mark. Johnson also has 30 TD catches, tying him for 4th place in school history.
In the second half, Simmons again tried to pull the Mustangs back, with a 16 yard TD run. The extra point was blocked, and the Warriors led 24-20.
Just 42 game seconds later, Paul Preston found the end zone for the second time in the game on a 38 yard TD run. Preston also reached a career milestone, surpassing 3000 rushing yards in his Warrior career. He is just the 5th Running Back in Warrior history to reach the 3000 yard mark.
After the Preston run, the Warriors would take control of the game. Carter McCauley would hit a 38 yard field goal, and Jordan Kos would score on a 1 yard TD run, giving the Warriors a 39-20 lead after 3 quarters.
The Fourth quarter would see McCauley add a 25 yard field goal for WSU, and SMSU’s Simmons score on a 1 yard TD run with 17 seconds remaining, to wrap up a Warrior 42-27 win.
It was the first Battle For the Sledge at Maxwell Field, and the first Warrior win in the trophy game.
Winona State is now 7-3 overall, and will host Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday, November 12th to close out the regular season.