Wildcats drop homecoming contest
WAYNE — Special teams proved to be special trouble for Wayne State as the Wildcats lost a conference — and homecoming — matchup Saturday with Bemidji State University.
The Beavers scored early on a botched punt and later took advantage of a long punt return and a long kickoff return to turn the Wildcats back 27-10 in the Northern Sun conference game at Bob Cunningham Field here.
“Our special teams cost us the game,” WSC head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “We work our butts off to get in a game and our special teams let us down.”
The Wildcats fell behind early after they came up with just a single yard of offense on their first possession.
Alex Thramer from O’Neill got the start at quarterback after Aaron Bliel was hurt the past couple of weeks and unable to play.
“It’s easy to say we didn’t have good quarterback play,” McLaughlin said. “But our offense had little to do with the troubles we had tonight — and our quarterbacks were not the problem.”
The Wildcat defense played wonderfully all afternoon.
“We had four three-and-outs in the first half,” McLaughlin said. “We had them right where we wanted them, but our special teams let us down.”
Wayne State shanked a punt after its first possession and the Beavers took advantage.
The three-yard punt put Bemidji in business at the Wildcat 29, and the Beavers took just five plays to find the end zone.
“We need to have effort from all aspects of our team,” McLaughlin said. “We’re not good enough to let our specials teams play the way they did tonight.”
The Wildcats had the ball for 10 minutes in the opening frame, but Bemidji still was up by the 7-0 score,
Wayne State would eventually answer with a 27-yard field goal from Ethan Knudson by the end of the half, but the third quarter put the Wildcats back on their heels.
The Beavers returned the opening kickoff of the second half 65 yards to the WSC 28.
Bemidji would make it 13-3 and then use another special team’s miscue to make it 20-3.
The Wildcats gave up a punt return of 38 yards and then allowed the Beaver quarterback to ramble 56 yards to the end zone.
Bemidji would score again late in the third to make it 27-3, but after a Wildcat score from Marlon Warren with 4:20 left in the game made it 27-10, the Wildcats were ready to respond.
“We had four minutes left and we started getting some things done,” McLaughlin said. “We need to move the ball like that from the beginning and take care of all aspects of the game — very disappointing at this stage of the season.”
Bemidji State (4-1) 7 0 13 7 — 27
Wayne State (1-4) 0 3 0 7 — 10
BSU: Andrew Lackowski 1 run, Isaac Aanerud kick, 13:04.
WSC: Ethan Knudson 27 field goal, 5:44.
BSU: Jared Henning 3 run, pass failed, 12:40.
BSU: Michael Junker 56 punt return, Aanerud kick, 6:00.
BSU: Lackowski 1 run, Aanerud kick, 11:16.
WSC: Marlon Warren 12 run, Knudson kick 4:20.