Wildcats fall to Minnesota State in NCAA Division II football playoffs
MANKATO, Minn. – Wayne State took a 3-0 lead in its NCAA Division II playoff game at Minnesota State, but the Wildcats were unable to overcome 26 straight points by the Mavericks in a 26-3 opening round loss.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Wildcats struck first with a 36-yard field goal by Alex Powders with 12:24 left in the second quarter.
After multiple defensive stands by Wayne State in the red zone, Minnesota State finally got on the scoreboard with 35 second left in the first half, sending the game to halftime even at 3-3.
Minnesota State busted loose in the third quarter, forcing a safety of quarterback Nick Bohn to take its first lead of the game.
On the ensuing possession, the Mavericks got a 5-yard touchdown run by Tony Anger.
Minnesota State extended its lead with another third-quarter touchdown by Anger.
The Mavericks kept their momentum going into the fourth quarter with a nine-yard touchdown scramble by quarterback Hayden Ekern.
The Wildcats got a late consolation touchdown with Bohn finding senior wide receiver Mason Lee, a Wayne native, for a 22-yard touchdown reception. The two-point conversion and ensuing onside kick were unsuccessful, allowing Minnesota State to salt away the final 1:11.
On a cold blustery day, Minnesota State won the ground battle, outrushing the Wildcats 214-87. In Wayne State’s regular season win over Minnesota State in October, the Wildcats outrushed the Mavericks 279-275.
Lee led Wayne State in his final game in the black and gold, collecting 49 receiving yards on four catches. Ashten Schmaderer added five catches for 41 yards.
Alex Kowalczyk led the Wayne State defense with 11 total tackles, including seven solo stops and a tackle for loss.
Wayne State finishes the season 9-3, just the fourth nine-win season in program history. It was just the second NCAA Division II playoff appearance in school history for the Wildcats.
Minnesota State will advance to the regional semifinals to take on Colorado School of Mines.