Warrior football falls to 3-3 after homecoming loss


Mohammed Islam

Winona State University’s football team suffered a tough loss during homecoming weekend, falling 52-49 to Northern State University, their season record now sitting at 3-3. The game began at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9 on home turf at Maxwell Field with stands full on every side for the festive game. While the Warriors suffered their second loss in a row, player Jake Balliu was named the NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week following the game. The Warriors will play again at Maxwell Field next week on Oct. 16 against Southwest Minnesota State University.

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, sports reporter

After an upsetting loss last weekend against Wayne State College, the Winona State Warriors were back at Maxwell Field for the homecoming game against Northern State University.
The team went into the Oct. 9 game optimistic with a 9-0 record against the Wolves and about an equal season so far as Northern was sitting at 3-1 and Winona State at 3-2.
Head Coach Tom Sawyer went into the game worried due to last weekend’s loss against Wayne State, but also feeling optimistic as the team hits the halfway point of the season.
“The last year is getting tougher but I think we still have a good football team,” Coach Sawyer said, “Hopefully we put that on display this week.”
The game started out on a hard note as Northern State’s Hunter Trautman scored the first touchdown of the game with two minutes left in quarter one.
Seven minutes later in the beginning of quarter two, NSU scored another touchdown with a pass from Trautman to Vance Barnes to put the score at 14-0.
The 14-point lead didn’t last long as fifth-year Warrior Jake Balliu had a 97-yard kickoff return to score the Warrior’s first touchdown of the game.
The Wolves returned the play with two more touchdowns in the second quarter from Dewaylon Ingram and Dakota Larson, both made on passes from Trautman once again.
Jason Michael Young quickly returned a touchdown on a 28-yard reception from Owen Burke for his first Warrior touchdown, putting the score at 28-14 late in the second quarter.
Unfortunately, with three seconds left in the first half, NSU’s Dakota Larson made a touchdown once again to end the first half at 35-14.

“They have a high-powered offense, so we have to do two things: one is better defensive pass coverage,” Coach Sawyer said, “Two is we have to play better offensively to burn up more clock so that their offense isn’t on the field.”
The first half proved this to be a struggle as it moved slowly, but the Warriors went into the second half with hopes of doing exactly that and coming back for the win.
To start off the second half, Dominik London came in with a score on the first possession after a 44-yard run to the end zone.
For the rest of the game, the Warriors experienced a back-and-forth matchup against NSU as they attempted to make up for the first half.
NSU’s Ingram had a 72-yard pass, resulting in another touchdown and the Wolves’ first of the second half.
Wide receiver Ethan Wittenburg was right behind the play as the duo of he and Burke came through for a 39-yard pass to the end zone, bringing the score up to 42-28.
Wittenburg and Burke have been the two to watch on the field as they have an increasingly positive on- and off-field relationship.
“I think our relationship has grown on and off the field,” Wittenburg said of his connection with Burke. “Which has increased our level of trust between each other on the field.”
The Wolves then had Brett Brenton on the touchdown after a short five-yard run, followed by Winona’s Darryl Williams with a 41-yard reception from Burke to bring it to an even closer game at the beginning of the last quarter.
Tyler Knutson then had a 17-yard catch to bring the score 49-42, a mere touchdown away from a tie.
Unfortunately, NSU could not let that happen, as they rang in a 38-yard field goal halfway through the last quarter.
Knutson finished off the strong fight with a touchdown, bringing the game to the closest it had been in the whole three hours and 14 minutes with only a three-point difference of 52-49.
“We play to win because we hold ourselves to the highest of standards,” Wittenburg said, “Obviously sitting at 3-2 (now 3-3), that hasn’t happened but at this point it’s all about how we can handle adversity.
With five games left in the season, anything is possible and the team looks to get back on the right foot this coming week.
Next week on Oct. 16 the Warriors continue at their home field against Southwest Minnesota State University in the Battle for the Sledge. The teams have a 7-3 history, while SMSU sits at 2-4 overall for the season and Winona State sits at 3-3.