BISMARCK, N.D. -- A nine-yard TD run by senior running back Anthony Watkins, his second of the game, gave Wayne State a 33-28 season opening Northern Sun Conference football win Saturday night at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.  It was Wayne State’s first road win to open the season since 2012 (49-6 at MSU Moorhead).  It also marked the sixth time in 11 career meetings against UMary that the game was decided by seven points or less.

Wayne State got off to a quick start in the contest as on the second play from scrimmage Wildcat senior linebacker Jaylan Scott intercepted a Logan Nelson pass and raced 21 yards for a touchdown giving WSC a 7-0 lead just 47 seconds into the contest.

Following a UMary punt, Wayne State’s offense scored on their first possession of the 2022 season as the ‘Cats marched 64 yards on 11 plays and scored on an Anthony Watkins six yard run putting Wayne State ahead 14-0 with 7:53 to go in the first period.

The host Marauders responded on the ensuing drive and scored on a 36-yard scoring strike from Nelson to Danny Kittner, cutting the WSC lead to 14-7 with 4:50 remaining in the quarter to cap a high scoring opening stanza.

Neither team scored in the second quarter as WSC outgained UMary 85-75.  The best drive for the ‘Cats started at their own 15 and WSC moved 58 yards before the drive stalled on downs at the Marauder 27 as Wayne State entered the locker room with a 14-7 lead at intermission.

Wayne State opened the second half with a three and out, but then the two teams combined to score touchdowns on their next four possessions.

Mary’s Gabe Levy scored the first of two touchdowns in the third quarter on a nine-yard run to knot the score at 14-14 with 10:52 to play in the third quarter.

The Wildcats responded as sophomore quarterback Nick Bohn found the end zone on an 11-yard run, putting the ‘Cats back in front 21-14.

The next drive saw Levy score again for the Marauders, this time on a 25-yard run, evening the score at 21-21 with 5:13 left in the third quarter.

WSC struck with a big play for their next score as Bohn fired a 65-yard scoring strike to sophomore Jadon Johnson, giving the ‘Cats a 27-21 lead after the PAT kick was blocked.

The host Marauders took their first lead midway through the fourth quarter as David Small Jr. scored on a three-yard run to cap an 80-yard drive, giving UMary a 28-27 lead with 7:01 to play.

Later in the fourth quarter, Wayne State put together a 55-yard drive on five plays with Watkins scoring on a 10-yard run with 1:46 to play putting the ‘Cats back ahead at 33-28.

Mary was able to move the ball to the WSC 45 in the final minute, but the ‘Cats got a pair of sacks to stop the Marauder drive and WSC held on for the 33-28 win.

UMary outgained Wayne State in the contest 451-391.  The ‘Cats had 195 yards rushing and 196 passing.

Watkins led the ‘Cats on the ground with 73 yards on 17 carries and two scores followed by sophomore quarterback Nick Bohn with 51 yards on 11 attempts and one TD.

Throwing the ball, Bohn completed 10 of 17 passes for 196 yards and one TD.  Sophomore Jadon Johnson had three catches for 78 yards and one score followed by senior Mason Lee with two catches for 64 yards.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Alex Kowalczyk, senior J’Von France and junior defensive back Tanner Cooper each had eight tackles.  Rex Becker added five tackles with Jaylan Scott recording four to go with a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The Wildcats will be at home next Saturday (September 10) hosting Northern State in a 6 p.m. contest at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne. You can watch the game live on News Channel Nebraska.