Santiago-Lloyd rushes for career-high against Beavers

Mitchell Breuer, Sports Editor

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Winona State University’s football team win streak is up to three this week, after the team was able to defeat Bemidji State University 27-14.

The game started off as a back and forth contest between as the Warriors would quickly get on the board with 47-yard touchdown pass from junior Owen Burke to junior Tyler Anderson.

However, before the first quarter came to a close the Beavers tied things up at seven a piece with a touchdown of their own.

The leg of senior kicker Paul Ortiz gave Winona State the lead, as he drilled a 35-yard attempt to start the second quarter.

It was at this point that the defenses in this game began to step up, as the Warriors forced a quick three and out, only to have the Beavers respond with an interception on the first play of the ensuing drive.

The interception party was just getting started though, as senior David Smith got his second interception of the season.

This was met with yet another interception, as Burke threw another pass into the Beavers’ paws.

Bemidji State’s offense finally put an end to the turnovers for the time being, making their way down field to the Warriors’ 16, setting up for a 32-yard field goal attempt to tie the game, however the kick would go wide left and no good.

After three punts quieted down the game, the Warriors defense came back to life with an interception by junior Cole LaLiberty, the offense failed to capitalize though and the game headed into half with 10-3 score.

The second half kicked off the same way the first ended, with another Warrior interception, this time by senior Nick Pridegon who had one of the highlights of the game with a one-handed takeaway.

Again though, the Warrior offense did not score points off the turnover but the defense gave them another opportunity with their fourth interception of the day, this time coming from junior Richard Azunna.

Finally, the offense got back to the redzone thanks to junior running back, Sam Santiago-Lloyd rushed for 25-yards on the ensuing drive, however a touchdown was not scored.

The team again had to settle for Ortiz field goal, this time from 25-yards out, to give the Warriors a six-point lead.

After another three-and-out set up by the Winona State defense, the team finally got a touchdown, as Santiago-Lloyd punched it in from three yards out.

In the fourth, the Beavers began to fight back with a touchdown early in the quarter to make it a six-point game.

Bemidji State continued to look strong, forcing a quick drive from the Warriors to get the ball back but, there momentum stopped short with yet another interception, this time by second-year Clay Schueffner.

Following the game, head coach Tom Sawyer mentioned how the defense’s strong performance shaped the game.

“We had five picks. I mean that doesn’t happen very often and it was five different guys so that’s pretty exciting and three linebacker interceptions,” Sawyer said. “It was a big part of the game as well. We had a couple of new players in there too that started their first games for us and really played well. So, it’s fun to see.”

Another member of the roster who shaped the game was Santiago-Lloyd, who iced the game with a drive that consisted of him running for another 32-yards, which was capped off with a two-yard touchdown run.

It was a real breakout game for Santiago-Lloyd, who ran for a career-high 231 yards. It was also worth noting that he given 39 attempts to run with the ball. Something that Sawyer says was a designed plan by the team.

“We’re feeding him a little bit more because of how hard he’s running the football. I mean he’s kind of changing the game the last three weeks, I mean, his yards after contact are ridiculous,” Sawyer said. “So, he’s just playing so well it’s hard to take him off the field.”

Sawyer also noted that Santiago-Lloyd would have been over 300 yards, if a 60-yards run of his would have counted.

With the win, the team now sits at 2-2 on the road, after starting the season with two straight losses in visiting matchups.

“Well, I just think overall, we’re better, whether we’re playing at home or on the road,” Sawyer said. We don’t think about road and home that much, but you actually, it plays it out. Especially when we played teams like Mankato and Sioux Falls earlier in the year.”

The Warriors look to continue to use their newly found energy as they will host St. Cloud State University this weekend. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.