USF drops a defensive battle against Winona State

Sports
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (USF) – In a back-and-forth affair, a late touchdown from Winona State (5-3, 2-1 NSIC South) proved to be the difference as the Warriors defeated the University of Sioux Falls (5-3, 2-1 NSIC South) in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division battle at Bob Young Field on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 23).

After the Cougars forced a turnover on Nate Durfee’s second of two interceptions and redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Mullen connected with Ty Smith on an eight-yard TD pass for a 10-7 lead with 4:52 left to play, the Warriors had the answer. After forcing a USF punt with under two minutes to play, WSU quarterback Owen Burke connected with tight end Dakota Matthees on a 70-yard TD pass with 1:28 on the clock for the 14-10 lead. USF, which started its drive with 1:25 to play and two time outs, moved the ball from its own 27 to the WSU 32-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

“We have to find a way to rebound after a tough loss like this,” said USF Head Coach Jon Anderson. “Give credit to our defense as they played well and kept Winona State off the board most of the game. It was unfortunate what happened at the end. Overall, we didn’t run the ball consistently and we have to find a way to move the sticks and score more points. It is back to work for us as we prepare for Minnesota State,” he said.

It was a defensive struggle which included three missed field goals and a total of four interceptions – two each by USF and Winona State. With the loss, USF fell into a three-way tie at the top of the NSIC South at 2-1. The Cougars now stand 5-3 overall in the conference standings.

Among the highlights for USF was redshirt freshman wide receiver Carter Slykhuis who had career-bests in catches with eight and yardage with 102. He is USF’s first wide out to surpass 100 yards receiving this year. Senior wide receiver Ty Smith hauled in six catches for 76 yards and caught his second TD pass in two weeks. Redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Mullen was 24-of-43 for 229 yards with a TD and two interceptions.

USF’s rushing attack was led by junior Thuro Reisdorfer, who had 18 carries for 69 yards with a long of 22 yards. With his 69 yards, he moved past Gabriel Watson for 14th on USF’s career chart with 1,993 yards. Watson had 1,973 yards from 2018-19. Reisdorfer is now at 741 yards for the season.

On defense, sophomore linebacker Cody Jantzen had a career-best 10 tackles with seven of them solo. Gio Purpura added a career-best seven solo stops and senior linebacker Harvey Enalls had six tackles which moves him up to 167 for his career.  With his two interceptions, Durfee has four in his career. USF also had sacks from Jonathan Taylor and Noah Schmitt.

Overall, USF had 68 plays for 310 yards in total offense with 229 through the air and 81 on the ground, WSU had 374 yards on 68 plays with 153 rushing yards. Quarterback Owen Burke was 18-of-31 for 211 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Noah Carlson had 16 carries for 78 yards and a TD.

After a scoreless first half, the Warriors struck first in the second half with a two-yard TD run by Carlson capping an 11-play, a 61-yard scoring drive that used up 4:57 of the third-quarter clock. USF put up its first points of the game on a 33-yard field goal from Nicholas Hernandez with 8:48 to play. The field goal by Hernandez capped a 15-play, 83-yard scoring drive. On a third and eight play from its own 22-yard line, WSU’s Burke was intercepted by Durfee to set up a go-ahead score for USF at the 35-yard line. Seven plays later, Mullen connected with Smith from seven yards for a 10-7 lead.

Next, USF held WSU and forced a punt with 2:45 to play, but Cougars were also unable to pick up a first down and WSU started their game-winning drive at their own 30-yard line. On a second and 10 play, Burke connected with Matthees down the right sideline for a 70-yard score and a 14-10 lead.

As a result, the Warriors captured the ninth meeting between the schools and hold a 5-4 series lead. USF will now travel to Minnesota State for a 1 pm game on Saturday, Oct. 30. 

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