A fourth-quarter rally by Wayne State fell just short as the Wildcats were stopped in the final seconds at the Upper Iowa 4-yard line, allowing the Peacocks to hang on to a 35-30 victory over Wayne State Saturday afternoon at Harms-Eischeid Stadium in Fayette, Iowa. Both teams are now 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the NSIC South Division following the contest.
The first half was a shootout between the two clubs as Upper Iowa scored touchdowns on its first four drives while Wayne State recorded three touchdowns and a field goal as the Peacocks held a 28-24 lead at intermission.
Wayne State took the opening kickoff and marched 82 yards on nine plays as junior quarterback Zach Osborn found the end zone on a two-yard run giving the 'Cats a 7-0 lead.
The Peacocks scored the next two touchdowns. Quarterback Dimitri Morales fired a four-yard pass to Jarred Edmonds for the first Upper Iowa scored, followed by a Morales nine-yard strike to Jalen Amis to give the Peacocks a 14-7 lead with 5:42 to go in the first quarter.
The Wildcats produced the first points of the second quarter as freshman placekicker Ethan Knudson booted a 34-yard field goal at the 14:49 mark trimming the Upper Iowa lead to 14-10.
The Peacocks scored again on their next drive as Morales ran 15 yards for a touchdown to cap a 12 play, 78-yard drive that pushed the Peacock lead to 21-10. Wayne State used an Alex Kline three yard run with 7:59 to go in the second quarter to pull within four a 21-17, but the Peacocks answered again on a Ryan Parmely one yard run to culminate an 82-yard drive on eight plays to give Upper Iowa a 28-17 lead with 5:02 left before halftime.
Wayne State forced Upper Iowa's lone punt of the first half deep in Peacock territory and got the ball back with 23 seconds left before halftime. The Wildcats took advantage and scored a touchdown as Osborn hooked up with Nate Rogers for a 27-yard pass and a seven-yard scoring play with :12 left to make it 28-24 at the half.
The second half saw Upper Iowa take advantage of a Wayne Stae fumble on their first drive of the third quarter for their lone score as the Wildcat defense stepped up and stopped the Peacocks from scoring the rest of the game.
Upper Iowa recovered an Alex Kline fumble at the Wildcat 22 and scored four plays later on a nine-yard pass from Morales to Trey McTaggart to take a 35-24 lead with 10:44 to go third quarter.
The score remained that way until Wayne State put together a 12-play, 93-yard drive early in the fourth quarter as Kline found the end zone for a second time on a two yard run that cut the deficit to 35-30 with 7:45 to go. A two-point run by Osborn failed.
Wayne State forced a three and out on Upper Iowa and got the ball back at their own 19-yard line with 6:28 to play. The Wildcats drove down the field, keeping the drive alive twice on fourth down conversions on an 11-yard pass to Keaton Slaughter and another on a roughing the passer penalty. Wayne State drove to the Peacocks’ 4-yard line and had two plays to get into the end zone, but both plays were incomplete passes to Nate Rogers as the Peacocks held on for the win. It was the seventh time in the last eight meetings between the two clubs that the game was decided by five points or less.
Wayne State junior running back Alex Kline recorded a season-high 66 yards rushing on 19 carries and two TD's while adding another six catches for 74 yards. Osborn was the top rusher for the Wildcats with 86 yards on 20 carries and one score.
Throwing the ball, Osborn completed a season-high 29-of-45 passes for 314 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Rogers hauled in nine receptions for 114 yards and one score, his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. Kline added six catches for 74 yards while Slaughter added four catches for 72 yards.
Defensively, defensive back Jamaal Conway-Smith led the Wildcats with nine total tackles followed by Cam Montgomery with eight stops. Linebacker Cody Eischeid added six tackles and a blocked field goal.
Wayne State (3-6) will play their final home game of the season on Saturday, hosting Minnesota State in a 1 p.m. contest at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne