Football beats Sioux Falls with last-minute touchdown

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, sports reporter

After a much-needed win last weekend in the Battle for the Sledge against Southwest Minnesota State University, the Warriors hit the road to South Dakota to play University of Sioux Falls this week.

The win put the Warriors back into the 1-0 mindset after a tough two weeks of losses against Wayne State College and Northern State University in the homecoming game.

Third-year defensive lineman Luc Leszczynski said that the win put them into a good place going into the game against Sioux Falls as the end of the season approaches.

“It felt like we found our rhythm again as a team during the game with the offense picking up the defense and the defense picking up the offense,” Leszczynski stated. “[I] feel great about going into Sioux Falls. It’ll be a good road trip against a good team, but I also feel great about our team going into the game.”

Sioux Falls had the upper hand going in being 5-2 in the season so far, and a split history against the Warriors of 4-4.

The team was successfully able to play defensively the way they’ve been trying to all season, as they clinched a win of 14-10 in a close game.

The first half was slow, with no points from either team going into halftime. The Warriors started with a steady offensive drive before two missed field goals that ended a series of plays in the first half. The Cougars also had a missed field goal in between the Warrior’s missed points.

After a punt from Sioux Falls to start the second half, Winona State had an eleven play and 61- yard scoring drive. Jace LaBuda snapped back to Dakota Matthees for a first down. On the next play, transfer Noah Carlson had a short 2-yard touchdown for the first points of the game.

The last quarter started with a 33-yard field goal from Sioux Falls before a stunning next play as a Warrior throw was intercepted, and the Cougars used it to gain a touchdown, putting the score at 10-7 with under five minutes left in the game.

“No one on our team will ever give up or think the game is over before the time clock is over,” Second-year wide receiver Myles Tramill said. “We are competitors so we will give it our all.”

This was very apparent on Saturday as the team was able to use the last five minutes to their advantage. On a second down, Owen Burke threw to Matthees and he ran to the end zone to complete to 70-yard connection and put the Warriors ahead once again.

Following the late touchdown, the Cougars had three incompletions before the game ended with a Warrior win at 14-10. Leszczynski was a strong defensive stall as he had a sack on the first down to slow down the Cougars a bit in the final play.

Offensively, the team led total in yards with 374-310 and 153 rush- ing yards to Sioux Fall’s 81. Most of the rushing yards came from Carlson with 78 yds on 16 attempts while Dominik London had 14 rushes for 60 yds. Matthees led on receiving with 80 yards on two receptions, including the 70 from the winning touchdown. Jake Balliu led Winona State in receptions with five for 55 yards.

Defensively, Aarion Lacy was a driving force as he contributed two interceptions and two tackles. Leading the team was Clay Schueffner with 11 tackles, followed shortly by Richard Azunna and Mitch Snitker with eight tackles each.

“As a team, my goal would be to keep progressing, keep growing, keep striving toward out one day at a time mentality.” Leszczynski said. “We need to put together a full game on both sides of the ball, when we do that the sky is the limit for us.”

Next weekend, the team heads back to Sioux Falls, S.D. again to play Augustana University, a team that’s ranked 22 nationwide for Division II football. After that, the Warriors are headed home for the final two games of the 2021 season against Upper Iowa University on Nov. 6 and Minnesota State University – Mankato on Nov. 13 for Senior Day.