Cougars’ Homecoming Soured by 45-40 Loss to Winona State
A crowd of nearly 2,800 watched both teams combine for 85 points despite battling wind gusts that reached more than 35 miles an hour. USF trailed 45-33 late in the fourth quarter but made things interesting with a score to cut the deficit to 45-40 with 58 seconds on the clock. Coach Stugart called for an onside kick, but it did not go past 10 yards and WSU freshman quarterback Jack Nelson simply took a knee at the Cougars’ 44-yard line to run out the clock.
The Cougars fall to 3-3 and 1-1 in NSIC South play, while Winona State is 4-2 and a perfect 2-0 in the NSIC South division. It is only the second loss for USF at Bob Young Field (44-2) and it is the first time that fans have witnessed the Cougars get knocked off at home by a conference foe since the 2001 season.
The scoring started early, with the Cougars jumping out to the quick 7-0 lead. On USF’s first drive of the game, Luke Papilion marched the squad straight down the field, all the way to the Warriors’ seven-yard line. He found his way into the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown run out of the shotgun formation with 11:25 left in the first quarter.
Winona State responded with a score on their first offensive series. The Warriors went 71 yards in 1:10—with senior running back Chichi Ojika accounting for 70 of them—with Jordan Kos tying the game with a one-yard touchdown rush.
On the Cougars’ next drive, Nephi Garcia picked up a handful of yards to set up a 2nd-and-7 before Papilion moved the chains with an 11-yard burst. Two plays later, he hit senior tight end Austin Vanhove with a 39-yard touchdown strike with 8:30 left in the first quarter.
The Warriors then ate a chunk of time off the clock behind strong running and passing from their quarterback, who moved the Warriors from their own 10 to the Cougar 44 with a 46-yard run before capping the six-play, 94-yard series with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tony Mueller.
Papilion connected with Vanhove again in the endzone but the extra point was blocked, giving the Cougars a six point lead at 20-14. Ojika exploded on the next series, though, and there was little the USF defense could do to contain him as the senior simply out ran everyone else on the field for a 65-yard score. The Warriors tacked on three more points to lead 24-20 at the half.
The teams traded scores in the third quarter and the Warriors made it a two-possession game with an eight-play, 91-yard series that gave them a 38-27 lead. The Cougars narrowed it to 35-30 with Papilion’s nine-yard strike to Carrington Hanna but failed to convert on a two-point conversion attempt. Winona State answered quickly for a 45-33 lead that would prove insurmountable.
USF countered with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Corbin Lawler, who replaced Papilion, to Wes Smith but the comeback fell short with the Cougars’ failed onside kick.
Papilion finished 16-for-25 for 200 yards. He accounted for five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) and threw one interception.Lawler was 4-for-15 for 68 yards and a score.
Garcia had 122 rushing yards for USF; his fifth straight over 100, while Carrington Hanna caught 11 passes for 139 yards and a score.
John Batinich paced the defense with 10 tackles, including two TFL’s for a total of six yards. Evan Gentry tallied three tackles and posted the Cougars’ only sack (8 yards).
USF racked up 616 yards of offense, the third straight week that the Cougars surpassed the 600-yard mark. They had two turnovers and committed a single penalty.
The Cougars travel to Concordia-St. Paul next weekend.
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls