Warriors Tame Wildcats In Season opener

From Winona State University Sports Information:

Photo: Chops Hancock

WINONA, Minn. – Junior quarterback Owen Burke threw for a career-best 313 yards and the Winona State University defense blanked Wayne State for three quarters in what resulted in a season-opening 37-20 victory for the Warriors at Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Burke spread the ball out to 12 receivers on 23-of-33 attempts, connecting on touchdown passes with Tyler Knutson, Dakota Matthees and Sawyer Maly – a trio made up of one sophomore and a pair of true freshmen. Redshirt junior Jake Balliu showed he was back at full strength after suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2018 by leading the receiving group with six catches and 63 yards.

Also returning from injury, on the defensive side of the ball, Cam Gavin, Michael Gomez and Nick Pridgeon each made their presences felt. Gomez and Pridgeon, both captains on the unit, combined for seven tackles including two behind the line of scrimmage. Gavin recorded a pair of interceptions in the Warrior secondary as the home team won the turnover battle, 3-0. Senior linebacker David Smith also intercepted Wildcat quarterback Andy McCance.

A trio of field goals by Paul Ortiz along with Burke’s first touchdown of the day to Matthees in the second quarter staked Winona State to a 16-0 advantage at the break. Late in the third quarter, Burke connecting with Knutson on a 31-yard scoring strike to pad the Warrior lead to 23-0.

Wayne State finally put a dent in the Winona State defense with a 10-play 75-yard drive early in the fourth frame.

On the ground, WSU out-rushed Wayne State, 222-88, which was highlighted by Landon Jacobson’s 44-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter. Sam Santiago-Lloyd did a bulk of the work in the backfield with 16 carries for 89 yards.

The midway point of the fourth quarter saw a flurry of scoring action as Cam picked off his second McCance pass of the day near the goal line to halt a Wildcat scoring threat and proceeded to return the interception to midfield. On the very next play, Burke aired out a 48-yard bomb to Maly, a true freshman, for a touchdown.

Wayne State responded by taking the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and tacked on another late score before ultimately falling victim to the Warriors.

(RV) Winona State will face a huge road test next week against (RV) Sioux Falls as the teams battle for NSIC South positioning on Saturday, September 14.

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