St. Cloud State handed Wayne State College a 31-17 loss in Northern Sun Conference football played Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Wildcats suffer their first loss of the season, falling to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in league play, while host St. Cloud State moves to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the NSIC.
The Huskies dominated the time of possession in the contest, owning the ball for 37:24 to just 22:36 for the Wildcats. St. Cloud State took the opening drive of the game and scored, going 65 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead after junior quarterback Mitch Watkins scored on a five-yard run with 8:53 to play in the first quarter.
Wayne State scored on back-to-back possessions late in the first quarter and early in the second stanza to take a 14-7 lead. The Wildcats defense created the first scoring opportunity as senior defensive end Troy Pribnow sacked Husky quarterback Mitch Watkins, forcing a fumble that was recovered by senior defensive tackle Darius Davis at the SCSU 18-yard line. The Wildcats scored three plays later when Frederick Bruno found the end zone on a five-yard run, knotting the score at 7-7 with 1:32 left in the first quarter.
After forcing St. Cloud State to punt, the Wildcats took their only lead of the game early in the second quarter when junior quarterback Silas Fluellen connected with Brian Chapman on a five-yard scoring pass, capping a seven-play, 59 yard drive, giving Wayne State a 14-7 lead with 10:43 to go in the first half.
St. Cloud State closed the half with two scores to give the Huskies a 17-14 lead at halftime as Brian Cristan booted a 20-yard field goal to close a 14-play, 61 yard drive midway through the second quarter for SCSU, cutting the ‘Cat lead to 14-10 with 4:29 left in the second quarter. After forcing a WSC punt, the Huskies then marched 76 yards on eight plays in the final 1:30 of the first half, scoring on a two-yard pass from Watkins to Tony Parker with just 21 seconds remaining in the first half, giving St. Cloud State a 17-14 lead at the intermission.
The Wildcat defense created another scoring opportunity for WSC early in the third quarter when Darius Davis recovered a Mitch Watkins fumble at the SCSU 19 yard line. However, the Wildcats could not move the ball and had to settle for a Nick Hope 44-yard field goal that tied the score at 17-17 with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter.
St. Cloud State wasted little time in regaining the lead as the Huskies took the ensuing drive and scored to take a 24-17 lead as Watkins teamed up with Fred Williams on an 11-yard scoring pass with 7:17 left in the third quarter to cap a four play, 46-yard drive. The Wildcats were moving the ball on the following drive until Fluellen fumbled at the SCSU 27-yard line, giving the ball back to the Huskies. St. Cloud State converted that turnover into points as the Huskies used a ball control drive covering 11 plays and 73 yards over 5:36 to take a 31-17 lead following a Mitch Watkins one-yard run with 14:13 left in the game.
Wayne State forced a turnover later in the quarter as junior linebacker Ryan Reeves intercepted a Mitch Watkins pass, giving the Wildcats the ball at the WSC 35 yard line. The ‘Cats used a 51-yard pass play from Fluellen to Logan Masters down to the SCSU five yard line for first and goal. But WSC could not convert and turned the ball over on downs to St. Cloud State and the Huskies went on to the 31-17 win.
St. Cloud State had 313 yards in the game to just 220 for Wayne State. The Huskies had 112 yards rushing and 201 passing while WSC finished with 101 yards on the ground and 119 passing. Penalties hurt Wayne State as the ‘Cats were flagged seven times for 66 yards with five of those penalties resulting in St. Cloud State first downs.
St. Cloud State junior quarterback Mitch Watkins scored all four touchdowns for the Huskies. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns and one interception to go with his two rushing touchdowns of five and one yard.
For Wayne State, junior quarterback Silas Fluellen completed just 8 of 21 passes for 119 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Travis Rhone was the top receiver with three catches for 40 yards. Junior wide receiver Logan Masters, who was held without a catch until late in the third quarter, finished with two catches for 56 yards, extending his streak to 26 games with at least two receptions in a game. The top rusher for WSC was Rhone with 39 yards on 14 carries while Fluellen had 31 yards on 11 attempts.
The top tackler for Wayne State was junior middle linebacker Ryan Reeves with 13 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup. Junior safety Matt Greenway added 11 tackles while Troy Pribnow finished with 10 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble.
Wayne State will be at home next weekend as the Wildcats host Minnesota State on Family Weekend at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne starting at 1:00 p.m.
Courtesy Wayne State athletic department