For the first time since 2003, the Winona State University football team is now 4-0, after defeating Minot State University 47-7 on Saturday, Sept. 23.
“Starting the season off 4-0 against the north division sets us up well to compete in the south division. We haven’t started 4-0 since way before I was here, so it is a great accomplishment,” senior kicker Carter McCauley said. “We definitely feel good about where we are at, but we are not even close to done. We are going to continue to build off of our successes and push forward into the next game and throughout the season.”
McCauley started the game on a high note, putting up the first points of the game following a 40-yard field goal.
On the next drive, after a strong stop by the defense, sophomore wide receiver Jake Balliu took a 33-yard punt and turn it into a 53-yard return; the Warriors first touchdown of the game.
McCauley capped off the opening quarter with another field goal to give Winona State a 13-point lead.
The second quarter proved to be all about the defense, who forced three turnovers during this period. The first turnover came after a forced fumble by sophomore defensive back Cam Gavin, and was recovered by sophomore defensive tackle Michael Gomez. This in turn set up the perfect opportunity for first-year quarterback, Owen Burke in his first start with the Warriors, to throw his first touchdown on a seven-yard pass to senior tight end Dustin Iverson.
“I felt good overall about my first start. I felt I managed the game well, but I did miss multiple opportunities throughout the game that I wish I had back. I thought the offense around me really played well and picked me up, along with our defense making great plays as well,” Burke said. He added how great it felt to get a win on his first start.
Burke ended the game having completed nine of his 23 attempts, and throwing for 114 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. After the touchdown, senior defensive back Andrew Spencer grabbed his third interception of the year.
As the first half neared a close, the Warriors came up a series of big plays, starting with sophomore defensive back Cole Monckton blocking a Minot State field goal attempt, followed by a 52-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Javian Roebuck. After another defensive stop and another field goal by McCauley, Winona entered halftime with a 30-7 lead.
The second half of the game started the same way the first ended, with McCauley putting up more points after a 47-yard field goal. His fourth and final of the game, padding his stat line for the season having gone a perfect seven for seven on field goals, and 18 of 19 on extra point attempts.
“Starting off my season 7 for 7 on field goals feels great. Being my senior season, I want this to be my best season and it’s an awesome feeling to see all the hard work and time, that my coaches, team, and I put in, showing on the field in my performance,” McCauley said. McCauley hopes to help the team win the conference title and move into the playoffs.
The defensive’s momentum was also carried over from the first half, as Monckton scored a touchdown after forcing and recovering a fumble by Minot State.
The final touchdown of the game came in the fourth quarter with first-year Landon Jacobson converting a 13-yard run into six points for the Warriors.
Winona State will look to continue their winning streak at home, as they take on Upper Iowa University next on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m.