Wayne State rushed for 311 yards and the Wildcats held off the University of Mary for 26-23 Northern Sun Conference football victory Saturday afternoon at the Community Bowl in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Wildcats are now 3-5 overall (1-3 NSIC South) while the host Marauders fall to 1-7 on the season and 0-4 in the NSIC North.
The Wildcats had the lone score in the first quarter, a 29-yard field goal from senior Ethan Knudson, to give WSC a 3-0 lead after one quarter.
Mary scored on the opening play of the second quarter, a 27-yard Logan Nelson run, to put the Marauders in front 7-3.
Wayne State answered on the following drive as the Wildcats 65 yards on just five plays, capped by a Lorenzo Logwood 18-yard run, putting the Wildcats back in front 9-7 following a blocked PAT kick. It was the first miss of any kind this year for Wildcat placekicker Ethan Knudson.
Mary scored on the ensuing drive to regain the lead on a 30-yard field goal from Brody Riggs for a 10-9 lead.
The Wildcats appeared on the verge of retaking the lead right before halftime as the ‘Cats drove 73 yards on 14 plays and had the ball 1st and goal at the Mary 8. WSC had to settle for a 24-yard field goal attempt, which was wide left on the final play of the half that allowed Mary to maintain a 10-9 lead at intermission.
Both teams traded turnovers early in the third quarter that resulted in each team scoring.
Mary used an interception against Wildcat redshirt freshman quarterback Tavian Willis to get the ball at the WSC 43. The Marauders used a 17-yard pass from Logan Nelson to tight end Brandon McFarlane with 11:28 to play third quarter giving UMary a 16-9 lead.
Later in the third quarter, WSC forced a Mary turnover as Ryan Parker forced a fumble on a sack of UMary quarterback Logan Nelson with Wildcat linebacker Austin Coffman recovering at the 12 and returning the ball to the Mary 1 where Logwood scored his second TD of the day on a one-yard run to tie the score at 16-16.
On Mary’s next drive, WSC forced a 3 and out and blocked the Marauder punt recovering at the Marauder 2. The ‘Cats could not find the end zone and settled for a 27-yard field goal from Knudson to take a 19-16 lead.
Knudson’s second field goal of the day tied him with Nick Hope (36-50 from 2006-09) for the all-time lead in career field goals at Wayne State with 36.
Mary regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter at 23-19 when Nelson fired a six-yard scoring pass to Luke Little to cap a 65-yard drive with 8:32 to play.
But Wayne State wasted little time to take back the lead as redshirt freshman Devin Merkuris broke loose on a 41-yard scoring run with 7:12 remaining to give WSC a 26-23 lead.
Mary’s next drive saw the Marauders drive to the WSC 30 before senior linebacker Tyler Thomsen intercepted a pass to stop the scoring threat with 2:28 to play.
Wayne State outgained Mary in the game 350-332 with 311 yards coming on the ground for the Wildcats.
Merkuris produced 123 yards on 20 carries and one score followed by Deshawn Massey with 94 yards on 15 attempts while Lorenzo Logwood finished with 43 yards on 11 rushes with two scores.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tavian Willis completed 5 of 11 passes for 39 yards and one interception. Jaosn Hawkins had two catches for 14 yards with Mason Lee making one catch for 14 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Tyler Thomsen recorded 13 tackles with one interception and one pass breakup. Sophomore linebacker Nicholas Joynt added nine stops while senior defensive end MJ Blankenfeld had eight tackles with two sacks for 20 yards.
Wayne State returns to NSIC South Division play next weekend visiting #3 Minnesota State in a 12 p.m. contest at Mankato, Minnesota.