WSU Football Dominates Upper Iowa State, 40-12

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, Sports Reporter

Contributed photo from one of Winona State University’s athletics photographers. The Warriors swept Upper Iowa State University’s football team this past weekend, the game ending 40-12, Warriors. The final matchup of the 2021 season will be at Maxwell Field in Winona, Minn. next Saturday against Minnesota State – Mankato. Next weekend’s game also marks Coach Sawyer’s final game after a successful 25-year run. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on Nov. 13. (Syerah Mulhern-Allred)

As the Winona State Warriors football team approaches the end of the 2021 season, their final matchup against the Upper Iowa State University Peacocks proved successful, with the final score reading 40-12, Winona.

Even though Upper Iowa is an easy win, the team approached it the same way they would any other.

“On the mental side of the game, we can’t take any of our opponents for granted,” Coach Sawyer said. “Can’t assume things are going to happen.”

The game started out slow on both sides, as there were no large moves until the end of the first quarter when the Peacocks scored their first touchdown of the game.

The touchdown came when Desean Phillips caught a three-yard pass from Marcus Orr. The team missed the extra point, bringing in only six points.

The second quarter began to speed up when second-year wide receiver Sawyer Maly caught a 26-yard pass from fifth-year quarterback Owen Burke to make a touchdown. First-year kicker Jacob Scott kicked for the extra point, bringing the score to 7-6.

Maly led the receivers with 65 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, followed shortly by second-year wide receiver Jason Michael Young and third-year wide receiver Ethan Wittenburg with three catches each.

Winona State continued to pack on the heat when fourth-year defensive back Richard Azunna had a pick six, intercepting Marcus Orr’s pass before taking it the 64 yards to the end zone and making it Azunna’s first interception of the season.

To finish up a strong Warrior second quarter, Burke brought in a touchdown on a short one-yard run to bring the score up to 20-6 going into the locker room for half time.

Burke finished the game with an impressive 23 for 29 passes and 244 yards, along with his first rushing score of the year with the touchdown. As he approaches the end of his college football career, Burke holds both the ninth and sixth all-time best for single game success of pass completion with 79.3% and 81.3% back in 2018.

Although the first half started off slow, the Warriors would get their grounds shortly into the second half to pull off a great game.

“Once we collected our thoughts and calmed down during halftime,” Myles Tramill said, “We realized we could play much better than we were.”

At the start of the second half, the Peacocks made headway down the field and were first and ten at the 15-yard line but stopped by second-year defensive lineman Corrie King to regain Warrior possession.

Nearing the end of the third quarter, Scott added scoring distance from the Peacocks with a 20-yard field goal.

Scott was 1 for 2 on field goal attempts and 3 for 4 on point after touchdown (PAT) for the day while first-year kicker and defensive back Tristan Root had three punts with the longest being 49 yards.

Only four minutes later, Upper Iowa scored for the last time when Isaiah Gray caught a 16-yard pass from Marcus Orr to bring the score to 23-12. The PAT was missed when first-year defensive lineman Darius Manuel blocked it only for Brian Corbins, third-year defensive back, to pick it up and score two points on the play. This continues a strong game for Corbins as he blocked another Peacock PAT earlier in the game.

To finish up the last quarter, first-year running back Noah Carlson had a 54-yard run into the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the season and adding up to 71 yards in six attempts of the game.

Slightly behind him in runs included second-year running back Dominik London with 44 yards on eight carried.

For the final hiatus of the game, fifth-year running back Javian Roebuck had a one-yard run to bring in his first touchdown since being back after an injury.

Roebuck is finishing up his sixth year after numerous injuries and a pandemic but still stays positive as an asset to the team.

“Small goals that I have are basically to be a leader on the team, be a captain, be a good role model,”

Roebuck said. “[I] talk to the guys and make sure that they’re in the right headspace.”

Defensively, the team held Upper Iowa to only 29 rushing yards with five sacks as a team, led by fourth-year defensive tackle Cole LaLiberty with three and a half. Second-year defensive back Mitch Snitker had eight tackles while LaLiberty and second-year defensive back John Schmidt had seven each.

The final score of the game was brought to 40-12, Winona, with a good effort from both teams.

The final matchup of the 2021 season will be at Maxwell Field in Winona, Minn. next Saturday against Minnesota State Mankato. Next weekend’s game also marks Coach Sawyer’s final game after a successful 25-year run.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on Nov. 13.