Winona State seized the momentum against Northern State during a critical third quarter on Saturday.
The Wolves dropped the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest 42-32 in front of 3,487 fans at Verizon Wireless Stadium. NSU trailed 21-19 midway through the third quarter and its defense just came up with big third down stop to take over on downs.
However, Winona State forced NSU wide receiver Mark Hanley to fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive. The Warriors took over at NSU’s 27-yard line and just two plays later all-conference running back Rayon Simmons scored from five yards out. The score made it 28-19 with five minutes and 50 seconds left in the quarter. On the Wolves next offensive series, they moved the ball across midfield, but a holding penalty backed them up and their punt was blocked on fourth down. The Warriors took over at NSU’s 29-yard line and four plays later, Alex Jensen scored on a two-yard touchdown reception from John Teigland. The touchdown made it 35-19 right before the start of the fourth.
“Unfortunately, we made some mistakes and those get magnified in a game like this,” Northern State coach Tom Dosch said.
NSU added a pair of TDs in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too much to overcome for the 0-3 Wolves. Winona improves to 2-1 on the season.
“It is frustrating because we are good enough of football team to win these games,” Dosch said.
Simmons rushed for 177 yards on 32 carries. He scored the game’s first TD on the opening drive on a 12-yard run. The Warriors went up 14-0 after a Teigland one-yard TD run in the second quarter. However, the Wolves got it to 14-13 later on in the quarter.
Jordan Piatz recovered a Hughes fumble in the end zone for the Wolves’ first TD of the day. Kicker Felipe Alfaia missed the point-after-attempt as NSU trailed 14-6. On the next drive for Winona, Logan Dosch picked off Teigland and returned it down to Winona’s 44-yard line. Four plays later, Jacobson hooked up with Piatz for a 22-yard TD reception with 4:37 left before half.
However, the Wolves’ defense could not get a stop on the next Winona possession. The Warriors used a 14-play, 68-yard drive that took off 4:33 off the clock and capped it off with a Tyler Speer five-yard pass from Teigland right before half. NSU trailed 21-13 at the break.
NSU got the ball to start the second half. Jacobson showed off his wheels with a 39-yard TD scamper. The Wolves could have knotted it up, but Hughes was stopped short on a two-point conversion run and they trailed 21-19. NSU forced a Winona punt on the next possession and had the momentum on its side. However, the Hanley fumble spelled the beginning of the end for NSU.
“We were a lot closer tonight than we were last week,” coach Dosch said, “but now we have to go do it for four quarters.”
The Wolves put up a season-high 412 yards of total offense, including 219 yards through the air. Jacobson accounted for all the passing yards and had two passing TDs, while rushing for 95 yards and two rushing TDs. Hughes had 15 carries for 95 yards and had a six-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter.
“Jared is a gamer,” coach Dosch said. “John is running batter too. We are a doing a better job up front.”
Northern State will host Concordia-St. Paul at 1 p.m. Saturday at Swisher Field in another NSIC contest. Concordia-St. Paul lost to No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth 70-24 on Saturday. The Golden Bears were only down 28-24 at halftime.
“We have to find a way to win one and obviously we have a good team coming to town,” coach Dosch said.
Northern State (0-3, 0-3 NSIC)… 0 13 6 13—32
Winona State (2-1, 2-1)… 7 14 14 7—42
WSU — Rayon Simmons 12 run (Jake Vercher kick), 13:26.