Southwest Minnesota State snapped a three-game losing streak with a dominating 40-24 homecoming victory over Wayne State on Saturday night.
SMSU (2-4 NSIC) racked up 509 yards of offense, including 324 on the ground, while the SMSU defense limited WSC (4-2 NSIC) to just 264 yards of total offense and 13 first downs.
Gannon Moore paced the Mustangs with 157 yards rushing and one touchdown on a career-high 26 attempts. His rushing touchdown with 10 minutes and eight seconds left in the fourth quarter was the 30th of his career, setting a new school record.
Warren Matthews also had a big game for SMSU rushing for 150 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, while also catching a 72-yard touchdown.
SMSU quarterback Tyler Peschong completed 9 of 17 pass attempts for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Abe Kos caught a game-high four passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wayne State defense entered the game allowing an average of just 90 rushing yards per game.
The win was SMSU's first over WSC since 2004 and also was the program's first homecoming victory since 2007 and just the second since the 2000 season.
Wayne State opened the game with a seven-play, 71-yard drive with Chad Koch catching a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brian Kent with 11:03 left in the opening quarter. Following that first drive, the SMSU defense allowed just 193 yards and 10 first downs for the remainder of the game and forced three turnovers.
SMSU cut into the deficit on its opening drive with Lance Schuveiller connecting on a 39-yard field goal with 7:02 on the clock.
Following a WSC punt, SMSU took the lead for good on its next drive with Peschong connecting on a 30-yard touchdown pass to Kos to give SMSU a 10-7 lead late in the quarter.
The Mustangs added to the lead early in the second, moving 74 yards on six plays, with all six plays via the rush, with Matthews breaking free for a 38-yard touchdown to make the score 16-7 following a missed PAT.
Matthews then added to the lead again, taking a screen pass from Peschong and sprinting for a 72-yard touchdown reception to extend the lead to 23-7. It was the second time this season Peschong and Matthews have connected on a 70-plus yard touchdown pass.
WSC trimmed the lead to 23-10 with a Max Martin 43-yard field goal with 1:51 left in the half.
SMSU was forced to punt with 48 seconds remaining in the half with WSC taking over at its own 40-yard line. But on the Wildcats ensuing offensive player, Andrew McReynolds recorded his first career interception to give SMSU the ball at the WSC 43-yard line.
SMSU drove the ball down to the WSC 11-yard line, but Schuveiller pushed a 28-yard field goal attempt wide right to keep the score at 23-10.
The Mustangs opened the second half with a punt, but on the return attempts, WSCs Kevin Paulsen fumbled the ball and SMSUs Sam Bonsu recovered at the WSC 27-yard line. SMSU failed to pick up a first down, but Schuveiller drilled a 38-yard field goal with 11 minutes left in the third to push the lead to 26-10.
The SMSU defense then stepped up again as defensive tackle Graham Ketterling caught a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage for his first career interception and setting up the SMSU offense at the Wildcat 40-yard line.
SMSU took advantage of the turnover and six plays later pushed career another touchdown, with Peschong firing a 15-yard touchdown pass Kos at the 6:25 mark to make the score 33-10.
WSC took advantage of short field later in the quarter, moving 40 yards on just three plays with Nick Pulscher scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:40 remaining.
On the ensuing SMSU drive and with WSC gaining some momentum, SMSU was faced with a fourth-and-1 from its own 21-yard line. The Mustang offense stayed on the field and Peschong plowed across for a 2-yard gain to keep the drive alive. SMSU picked up a pair of key third-down conversions on the drive with Moore capping the drive with his record-breaking 5-yard touchdown with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
WSC answered with a Pulscher 1-yard touchdown run midway through the final quarter to make the score 40-24, but SMSU was able to run out the final 7:55 with 13 straight rush attempts seal the victory.
Tate Bunkers led SMSU with six tackles, while Joe Stupka added five tackles, including one for loss.
Southwest Minnesota State hits the road next Saturday to face nationally-ranked and undefeated Minnesota State (6-0 NSIC) at 2 p.m. in Mankato, Minn.
Courtesy: Kelly Loft, SMSU Athletics