Big third quarter dooms Wildcats in loss to Minnesota State

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MANKATO, Minn. — No. 19 Minnesota State scored on four straight possessions in the second half to snap a 3-3 tie and go on to beat Wayne State 26-9 in the first round of the NCAA Div. II playoffs Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium.

The game was a struggle for both sides with frigid conditions owning the day. The game was scoreless until early in the second quarter, when Wayne State drove from their own 36 to the Maverick 19 and settled for an Alex Powders 36-yard field goal with 12:24 to play to take a 3-0 lead.

The Mavericks tied the game in the final minute of the first half, recovering a Wayne State fumble at the Wildcats’ 35 and getting a 23-yard field goal by Damian Chowaniec to tie the game at 3-3 at the break.

The third quarter proved to be the turning point, as the host Mavericks scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to go with a Wildcat safety to take control of the game.

A bad snap to quarterback Nick Bohn on the second play of the third quarter resulted in a safety, giving MSU a 5-3 lead.

The Mavericks got great field position on their next drive, needing just six plays to cover 37 yards and used a five-yard TD run by Tony Anger to take a 12-3 lead with 10:59 to play third quarter.

Later in the quarter, Anger scored again on a one-yard rush to cap a 52-yard scoring drive to give Minnesota State a 19-3 lead with 2:06 to play in the quarter.

Following a Wildcat punt, MSU scored again as quarterback Hayden Ekern found the end zone on a nine-yard rush making the score 26-3 with 11:25 to play.

Wayne State closed the scoring with 1:11 left in the game as senior wide receiver Mason Lee hualed in a 22-yard scoring strike from Bohn making the final score 26-9.

Senior Anthony Watkins was the top rusher with 37 yards followed by Dawson Forgy with 20 yards.

Throwing the ball, Bohn was 16-of-31 for 129 yards and one touchdown. Ashten Schmaderer was the top receiver with five catches for 41 yards followed by Lee with four grabs for 49 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore linebacker Alex Kowalczyk led Wayne State in tackles with 11 followed by senior Jaylan Scott with six.

Wayne State ends the season at 9-3 with their second-ever NCAA Division II playoff appearance along with the school’s first-ever NSIC regular season championship.

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