Wayne State dropped their 2016 season opener Thursday evening by a 41-24 score at MSU Moorhead in Northern Sun Conference football played at Scheels Field in Moorhead, Minnesota. It was just the third loss in a season opener in the last 12 years for the Wildcats, 0-1 overall, while the host Dragons improve to 1-0 with the win.
The lone score of the first quarter came on MSU Moorhead’s first drive of the game as quarterback Demetrius Carr found Cory Ambrose on a 25-yard scoring strike for a 7-0 Dragon lead at the 9:50 mark of the opening stanza.
Wayne State got on the board early in the second quarter when freshman placekicker Ethan Knudson booted a 35-yard field goal, making the score 7-3 with 11:24 to play in the first half.
The Dragons responded on the ensuing drive with Carr finding paydirt on an eight-yard run, putting MSU Moorhead in front 14-3.
The Wildcats answered as junior quarterback Zach Osborn connected with Nate Rogers on a 39 yard pass, trimming the MSUM advantage to 14-10 with 6:01 to play before halftime.
MSU Moorhead marched 72 yards on the following drive and took a 21-10 lead after Carr found Damon Gibson on a 37-yard scoring play.
The Dragons opened the second half with another score, a nine yard pass from Carr to Evan Moore, for a 28-10 lead.
A key turning point in the game came on the following series. Wayne State was forced to punt, but Cody Netusil‘s 70 yard punt drove MSU Moorhead returner Michael Strand back to the Dragon five yard line that resulted in a fumble recovered by Cam Montgomery, giving WSC a first and goal at the MSUM 4.
But on third and goal from the one, sophomore fullback Houston Huss fumbled at the one and the Dragons recovered. MSU Moorhead then marched 99 yards for a score to take a 35-10 lead with 6:11 to play in the third quarter.
Wayne State did not give up, scoring on their next two possessions to get back into the game. The first score was a four yard pass play from Osborn to Rogers, culminating a seven play, 69-yard drive that made the score 35-17.
The ‘Cats scored again with 16 seconds to play in the third quarter when Osborn fired a two-yard pass to senior Nick Roth, capping an 11 play, 65-yard drive to trim the Dragon lead to 35-24 entering the fourth quarter.
MSU Moorhead put the game away with a 74 yard drive to open the fourth quarter as Carr and Gibson teamed up for an 11-yard scoring play to make the final score 41-24.
MSU Moorhead held a 528-391 advantage in total offense over the Wildcats. The Dragons gained 233 on the ground and 295 through the air while WSC had 136 yards rushing and 255 passing.
Junior running back Rashad Trimble led the Wildcats on the ground with 110 yards on 20 carries.
Junior quarterback Zach Osborn completed 23 of 40 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Nate Rogers hauled in a game-high 11 receptions for 123 yards and two scores followed by junior Marcel Dunson with three catches for 32 yards.
Defensively for Wayne State, Tyri Bethea and Nick deBuhr were each credited with eight tackles followed by Glenn Harris with seven. Cam Montgomery added six tackles and a fumble recovery while Jonathan Bland and Logan Weinandt each recorded one sack.
Wayne State College will host Minot State next Saturday evening (September 10th) in the home opener for the Wildcats at Cunningham Field in Wayne.