Wayne State came alive in the second half and scored 23 points that included an interception return for a touchdown as the Wildcats pulled away for a 30-7 homecoming win over Minnesota Crookston in Northern Sun Conference football Saturday afternoon at Cunningham Field in Wayne. WSC is now 2-3 overall (1-3 NSIC South) while UMC drops to 0-5 on the season (0-4 NSIC North).
The ‘Cats scored on their opening drive of the game, a 74 yard drive that needed just five plays as senior Lorenzo Logwood capped the drive with a three-yard run giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead just 4:50 into the game.
But that would be the lone score of the first half despite WSC holding a 212-134 advantage in total offense at intermission as the Wildcats fumbled on their next two possessions after opening the game with a score followed by a pair of 3 and outs to close the half.
Wayne State impressed again on the opening drive of the second half as the ‘Cats marched 69 yards on nine plays with redshirt freshman Devin Merkuris finding the end zone on a two-yard run to give WSC a 14-0 lead.
WSC pinned Minnesota Crookston deep in their own territory and the Wildcat special teams came up with a big play as linebacker Nicholas Joynt tackled Golden Eagle punter Alex Folz in the end zone for a safety to put the Wildcats in front 16-0 at the 7:20 mark of the third quarter.
Wayne State closed out third quarter scoring with a 19-yard run from Deshawn Massey, culminating a 64 yard drive on nine plays, as the Wildcats led 23-0 with 2:56 to play in the third quarter.
Minnesota Crookston got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter as Kyler Banks was on the receiving end of a 12-yard scoring pass from quarterback Tristan Robbins, making the score 23-7 with 14:25 to play.
The final score of the contest came on a pick six for the Wildcats as J’Von France stepped in front of a Tristan Robbins pass at the UMC 41 and raced 41 yards to the end zone to close out the scoring with 11:14 remaining making the final score 30-7.
Wayne State finished the game with 409 yards, 376 coming on the ground as the gusty west/northwest wind limited the Wildcat passing attack to just 33 yards. Minnesota Crookston finished with 313 total yards of offense – 136 rushing and 177 passing.
Redshirt freshman Tavian Willis ran for 148 yards on just eight rushes to lead the Wildcat ground attack followed by 106 yards on 18 carries by redshirt freshman Devin Merkuris.
Willis was 2 of 4 passing for 20 yards while sophomore Alex Thramer completed 1 of 2 passes for 13 yards. Sophomore Mason Lee had two grabs for 18 yards with Merkuris making one catch for 15 yards.
Defensively, linebacker Nicholas Joynt had 14 tackles with one fumble recovery and a safety. Ian Ailts added nine stops while senior defensive end Jacob Protzman had seven tackles with 2.5 sacks for minus 17 yards.
The Wildcats hit the road next weekend, visiting #12 Minnesota Duluth in a Northern Sun Conference contest Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.