Early lead doesn’t hold as Minnesota State beats Wildcats


Wayne State College built a 17-7 first-quarter lead, but Minnesota State used a balanced offensive attack to come back in the second half for a 41-30 win over Wayne State Saturday before a crowd of 1,267 on Senior Day at Bob Cunningham Field.
The Mavericks opened the game with a 91-yard kickoff return and scored two plays into the contest on a Nick Pieruccini six yard run for a 7-0 lead 52 seconds into the contest. Wayne State responded, however, scoring on each of its first three possessions and took a 17-7 lead after one period. 
After Ethan Knudson hit a 19-yard field goal to get Wayne State on the board, the WIldcats’ defense got into the act as Shaq Paddy intercepted a pass and the offense converted it into points when Zach Osborn found Keaton Slaughter for an eight-yard pass to give Wayne State a 10-7 lead.
Wayne State came up with a big play on special teams to set up their next score as freshman Odessa Clark blocked a Maverick punt, giving the Wildcats great field position at the MSU nine-yard line. Osborn delivered an 11-yard scoring pass to junior Nathan Rogers, putting Wayne State in front 17-7 after one period.
The Mavericks (7-3) controlled the ball for most of the second quarter and produced 10 points . Pieruccini fired an 11-yard pass to Erik Fuller, and the Mavericks followed that with a 21-yard field goal from Anders Gelecinskyj later in the half to make it 17-17 at the break.
Minnesota State took the lead for good early in the third quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Gelecinskyj, then scored again midway through the third quarter as Pieruccini capped a 10-play, 88-yard drive with a three-yard run to make it 27-17.
Wayne State cut into the Maverick lead on the following drive when Osborn found senior Nick Roth on a 52-yard touchdown strike that got the Wildcats within three at 27-24, but Minnesota State responded with a 90-yard drive that spanned 15 plays and 5:24, capped when Fuller and Pieruccini teamed up on a four-yard scoring play.
Wayne State battled back and scored on their next drive when Rashad Trimble found the end zone on a 14-yard scamper with 10:09 left, trimming the Maverick advantage to 34-30 following a missed PAT kick. Minnesota State responded with an insurance score with 6:14 left, as Pieruccini connected with Justin Arnold on a 19-yard pass to make the final score 41-30.
Minnesota State finished the game with 513 yards while Wayne State gained 459.  The Mavericks produced 264 yards rushing and 249 passing while the Wildcats were limited to 73 yards on the ground while gaining 386 through the air.
Osborn was Wayne State’s top rusher with 27 yards on 15 carries followed by Rashad Trimble with 22 yards on two carries and one score.
Throwing the ball, Osborn completed 28-of-43 passes for a season-high 386 yards and three TD’s.  Shymere Williams led a balanced receiving group with seven catches for 125 yards followed by Sam Wegner with five grabs for 73 yards. Rogers added four receptions for 58 yards and one score while Roth had two catches for 61 yards and one score.
Jarrod Bazata and Tyler Thomsen led Wayne State’s defense with eight tackles each followed by Paddy with seven stops and one interception. Benjamin Walls also had an interception for the Wildcats.
Wayne State (3-7) closes the 2016 season next Saturday with a 12 p.m. contest at fourth-ranked Sioux Falls.