College football: Winona State pummels U-Mary in front of homecoming crowd
Winona State overpowered U-Mary and took whatever it wanted in its 54-13 NSIC football victory in front of a large homecoming crowd on Saturday at Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium.
The Warriors (4-2) starters put on a show in the first half, running out to a 34-0 lead by halftime and outgaining U-Mary 300-91. They then yielded to the backups who continued to dominate the Marauders and showcased the future of WSU football.
“This is a huge win for where we are right now, trying to build back up with a lot of young kids playing,” WSU coach Sawyer said. “We are trying to build another base of good football and we saw that today. A big win in front of the homecoming crowd.”
The Warriors dominated on both sides of the ball from the opening kickoff to the final snap, racking up 530 yards of offense and limiting winless Mary to only 234.
WSU quarterback Owen Burke completed 13 of 16 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. His receivers were wide open all game. There was nobody in the receivers’ area codes on his 6-yard touchdown to Tanner Gran and his 30-yard touchdown to Isaiah Frandsen.
“We just started hitting the short and intermediate throws and once the run game got going, that opened up the play action,” Burke said. “We got some guys to bite and that opened up our guys downfield.”
John Rumpza took over at quarterback for a couple of drives, completing all four pass attempts for 85 yards. Isaiah Ramsey and Jace Labuda also took snaps under center for the Warriors.
WSU running back Javian Roebuck rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, including a 52-yard run on a four-play scoring drive. He carried the ball three times in a row on the drive and capped it with a 12-yard touchdown run right up the middle. Roebuck had 101 yards in the first half and only carried once for a five-yard loss in the second.
“Javian is a tremendous back and he’s getting healthy again,” Sawyer said. “You’ll see more of him as long as he stays healthy. We’ve had guys dealing with banged up shoulders and things so we’ve been using a few different guys back there.”
Sam Santiago-Lloyd had four carries for 20 yards and a touchdown. And Miguel Benjamin — who started the season as a wide receiver — finished the game in the backfield, rushing for 71 yards on 19 carries.
“(Benjamin) came in at the end and he was a wide receiver two weeks ago,” Sawyer said. “We moved him over to running back because everybody else was hurt and he did a great job. He’s a tough kid.”
Freshman safety Kenneth Sanders returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown in a 27-point second quarter for the Warriors. Mary quarterback Jason Hoekstra overshot his receiver on a pass up the seam and Sanders was in the perfect place to make a play on it. He caught the ball running forward, had a convoy of blockers and showed off his speed down the right sideline.
“I try to do any and everything I can to win,” Sanders said. “Nothing on Earth feels better than winning a football game. The way I can do that and contribute to that is to be a game changer and get takeaways and try to put it in the end zone.”
David Munson and Trey Telez both also got takeaways as Munson intercepted a pass and Telez recovered a fumble that set up the touchdown pass to Frandsen.
The Warriors defense suffocated the Marauders, allowing only 50 yards on 30 rushing attempts — a 1.7-yards-per-carry average — and only 184 passing yards on 40 pass attempts.
The Marauders got onto the board on the opening drive of the second half, going 75 yards on seven plays and capping it with a 19-yard Hoekstra pass to Danny Kittner.
Their other score came directly following a fumbled punt return by Isaiah Hall. Mary recovered at the 5-yard line and Hoekstra found Kittner for another score on third down.
The Warriors hit the road next week as they travel to Minnesota Crookston (1-4) to face their third-straight NSIC North opponent.