#23 Minnesota Duluth used two fourth quarter touchdowns while holding Wayne State to minus five yards in the second half as the host Bulldogs wore down the Wildcats 21-7 in a Northern Sun Conference football contest Saturday afternoon played in snowy, windy conditions at James Malosky Stadium in Duluth, Minnesota. The host Bulldogs are now 5-1 overall (4-0 NSIC North) while dropping WSC to 2-4 on the season (1-3 NSIC South).
UMD took the opening drive and had the ball for 9:25 until WSC forced a fumble with Jalen Burgess recovering a Bulldog fumble at the WSC 9.
Wayne State was able to move the ball on their first drive, covering 52 yards on six plays before the drive stalled at the UMD 39 to force a punt on their lone drive of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the Bulldogs intercepted a WSC pass as Tavian Willis was picked at the WSC 18 giving UMD great field position.
The Bulldogs capitalized and used a Wade Sullivan four-yard run to score first, taking a 7-0 lead with 10:06 remaining in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter after WSC held UMD on downs, the ‘Cats took the ball from their own 28 with 1:20 remaining and used a pair of big plays to set up their lone scoring drive of the contest.
A Devin Merkuris 25-yard run followed by a Willis to Mason Lee pass for 37 yards set up WSC 1st and goal at the UMD 8. A pass interference call in the end zone gave WSC a 1st and goal at the UMD 2 with nine seconds remaining and Willis ran a boot leg to the right side of the field resulting in a two-yard TD run with three seconds left before halftime to tie the score at 7-7.
WSC had the first scoring opportunity of the second half as the Wildcats forced a Bulldog turnover on UMD’s first series of the half.
MJ Blankenfeld recovered a Wade Sullivan fumble that gave WSC the ball at the UMD 29. However the Wildcats could not capitalize as a penalty and sack took WSC out of field goal range.
Later in the third quarter, UMD put together a ball control drive that spanned 12 plays and 83 yards, using 5:40, as reserve quarterback Garrett Olson found Byron Bynum on a nine-yard scoring pass to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead with 13:23 remaining in the game.
After both teams traded punts, WSC was forced to punt again following a 3 and out and UMD’s Tyrik Carmickle blocked a Blake Kaiser punt deep in WSC territory giving UMD the ball at the Wildcat 16-yard line.
UMD sealed the win by converting for a score as Sullivan hit paydirt from the five yard line with 4:54 to play making the final score 21-7.
Minnesota Duluth outgained Wayne State in the contest 291-106 as the Bulldogs held the Wildcats to minus five yards in the second half thanks to seven sacks for 44 yards. WSC had 30 yards rushing and 76 passing while UMD gained 175 rushing and 116 passing.
Devin Merkuris led Wayne State in rushing with 40 yards on nine carries.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tavian Willis completed 4 of 11 passes for 71 yards with one interception while sophomore Alex Thramer was 1 of 2 for five yards.
Sophomore Mason Lee was the top Wildcat receiver with two grabs for 48 yards.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Nicholas Joynt recorded a game-high 11 tackles followed by Ian Ailts and Zaiden Hernandez with six stops each. MJ Blankenfeld and Jalen Burgess each had fumble recoveries.
Wayne State will be at home next Saturday afternoon hosting Northern State in a 1 p.m. contest at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne.