MARSHALL - For the second straight week, an interception sealed a victory for the Southwest Minnesota State football team.
Inside the 10-yard-line, Mustangs sophomore safety Jared Twedt stepped in front of a pass thrown by Winona State quarterback Jack Nelson in overtime as SMSU preserved 51-44 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division win Saturday on Senior Day at The Schwan Regional Event Center.
"We have made some big stops to close out the last couple games and, overall, we're feeling really confident right now," Twedt said. "I think we have had the right plays called and we have been able to execute them at the right times."
Photo by Jeff Arenz
Southwest Minnesota State’s Donovan Woods attempts to deflect a pass thrown to Winona State receiver Alan May in the end zone during the fourth quarter of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division football game Saturday at The Schwan Regional Event Center. Woods broke up the pass as the Mustangs won 51-44 in OT.
Before the interception, Twedt said he was locked in on Nelson.
"I was reading (Nelson's) eyes and I saw that he was rolling out and I also saw the tight end was dragging over," Twedt said. "I undercut (the play) and he threw the ball right to me."
Southwest Minnesota State head coach Cory Sauter knew Winona State's offense could be explosive. The Warriors had a 32-25 edge in first downs and outgained the Mustangs in total yards 701-530.
"Before the game, we talked about Winona State and that they would probably get their share of yards because they are a good offense," Sauter said. "Total yards is an overrated stat because the game is about points and keeping people out of the end zone. We were able to get the critical stops when we needed them."
Sauter was proud of the Mustangs for being resilient.
"That is a big part of our players taking responsibility," Sauter said. "They know every single play matters, regardless of the score. The guys battled and I could not be more proud of the 15 seniors who finished their college football careers on a positive note."
During a 52-48 NSIC South victory at Upper Iowa, Donovan Woods intercepted a pass in the end zone on the last play of the game as SMSU posted a win Oct. 26.
Woods played a key role in Saturday's victory, too, when the Mustangs improved to 5-4 overall and 3-2 against the NSIC South.
With 6 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Woods leaped in the left corner of the end zone to break up a pass from Nelson to Alan May, keeping SMSU ahead 44-41. On the next play, Brett Cochran-Bray's 21-yard field goal tied the score at 44 and sent the game into overtime.
The Mustangs had the first possession in extra time and needed only two plays to score. Tyler Tonderum, who set a new NSIC single-season rushing record Saturday, ran 24 yards to the 1-yard-line, where quarterback Charlie Kern plunged into the end zone on the next play for a 51-44 SMSU lead.
Tonderum finished with 190 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries against the Warriors. He has 1,708 yards on 262 carries this season.
"It's a great feeling to have this record, but it's also been a great job by our offensive line and everyone that blocks for me. It shows that they are giving their all on every play," Tonderum said. "Those yards are for all of us."
Against the Warriors (5-4, 3-2), Tonderum surpassed Winona State's Rayon Simmons, who ran for 1,586 yards in 2012, as the NSIC single-season record-holder. Tonderum scored on a 3-yard second-quarter run to tie the score at 13 before using a 6-yard fourth-quarter TD run to give SMSU a 41-34 lead.
Special teams were shaky for both teams Saturday.
Winona State's Chichi Ojika retuned the game's opening kickoff 89 yards to the Mustangs' 1 before Jordan Kos fell into the end zone on the Warriors' first play from scrimmage 17 seconds into the game.
It was 6-0 WSU before most fans had settled into their seats at Mattke Field. Tate Bunkers handed SMSU some momentum by blocking Cochran-Bray's PAT kick.
The Warriors went ahead 13-0 after Kos ran for an 8-yard TD with 9:22 left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs rallied to tie the game at 13 on Kern's first touchdown pass, which covered 17 yards to Cody Condon just 1:18 later, and Tonderum's 3-yard TD with 12:30 left in the first half.
Winona State took a 27-19 halftime lead after Nelson threw a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes to Cameron Johnson from 1 and 23 yards. Those scoring plays were sandwiched around Kern's 68-yard TD pass to Anthony Dean, who ran through a few tackling attempts before breaking away from the Warriors' defense en route to the end zone.
It was the Mustangs defense that tied the score at 27 in the third quarter. Three plays into the second half, Twedt forced Johnson to fumble after catching a pass before SMSU linebacker Tyler Flud scooped up the ball and ran 25 yards for a touchdown.
But Nelson, who completed 40 of 59 passes for 425 yards and three touchdowns, gave Winona State a 34-27 lead on an 18-yard TD strike to Tony Mueller with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
Kern and Tonderum scored touchdowns on two of the next three Mustang drives. Kern ran for the first of two rushing TDs after a 1-yard plunge at the 1:21 mark of the third quarter. Then, Tonderum's 6-yard touchdown run gave SMSU a 41-34 lead with 5:34 left.
The Mustangs' first lead of the game was short-lived. Two plays into the next Winona State possession, Ojika, who also ran for 190 yards, burned the SMSU defense on a 72-yard TD run.
Lance Schuveiller, who missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter, atoned for the miss by drilling a 22-yard field goal with 2:46 left as the Mustangs took a 44-41 lead.
Cochran-Bray, who tied the game with a 21-yard field goal 2:40 later, missed field goal attempts from 31 yards in the third quarter and 23 yards in the fourth quarter.
With five wins, SMSU surpassed its total of four victories in 2012. The Mustangs play Concordia-St. Paul at the Metrodome at 2 p.m. Saturday in Minneapolis.
NOTE: Saturday's contest was the final home game for 15 Mustang seniors, who, along with family members, were honored prior to the game. The players include J.J. Bobrowicz, Tate Bunkers, Cody Condon, Anthony Dean, Kyle Hahn, Adam Iversen, Kyle Johnson, Justin Knakmuhs, Dashawn Miller, Brandon Puffer, Lance Schuveiller, Alex Sedrel, Jake Thiel, Britt Wickett and Brad Wiest.
At The Schwan Regional Event Center, Marshall
WINONA STATE 44, OT
WSU - Jordan Kos 1 run (Brett Cochran-Bray kick blocked), 14:43.
WSU - Jordan Kos 8 run (Brett Cochran-Bray kick), 9:22.
SMSU - Cody Condon 17 pass from Charlie Kern (Lance Schuveiller kick), 8:04.
SMSU - Tyler Tonderum 3 run (TEAM kick failed), 12:30.
WSU - Cameron Johnson 1 pass from Jack Nelson (Brett Cochran-Bray kick), 9:51.
SMSU - Anthony Dean 68 pass from Charlie Kern (Lance Schuveiller kick failed), 2:35.
WSU - Cameron Johnson 23 pass from Jack Nelson (Brett Cochran-Bray kick), 0:20.
SMSU - Tyler Flud 25 fumble recovery (Charlie Kern run), 12:16.
WSU - Tony Mueller 18 pass from Jack Nelson (Brett Cochran-Bray kick), 3:30.
SMSU - Charlie Kern 1 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 1:21.
SMSU - Tyler Tonderum 6 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 5:34.
WSU - Chichi Ojika 72 run (Brett Cochran-Bray kick), 5:06.
SMSU - Lance Schuveiller 22 field goal, 2:46.
WSU - Brett Cochran-Bray 21 field goal, 0:06.
SMSU - Charlie Kern 1 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 15:00.
Total Net Yards701530
Time of Possession39:3720:23
RUSHING - Winona State (Chichi Ojika 23-190, Paul Preston 10-85, Jordan Kos 3-10, Anthony Resnick 1-3, Jack Nelson 5-minus 12); Southwest Minnesota State (Tyler Tonderum 27-190, Charlie Kern 9-41, Caleb Burns 1-2, Ashanti Payne 1-0).
PASSING - Winona State (Jack Nelson 40-59-425-3-1); Southwest Minnesota State (Charlie Kern 20-33-297-2-0).
RECEIVING - Winona State (Tony Mueller 11-130, Cameron Johnson 9-98, Chichi Ojika 5-44, Alan May 5-36, Alex Jensen 3-63, Zach Olstad 3-2, Harrison Barton 2-27, Anthony Resnick 1-16, Paul Preston 1-9); Southwest Minnesota State (Britt Wickett 6-82, Cody Condon 4-49, Adam Olson 3-48, Jordan Cross 3-30, Tyler Tonderum 2-2, Anthony Dean 1-68, Will Kurka 1-18).
MISSED FIELD GOALS - Winona State 2 (Brett Cochran-Bray 23, 31); Southwest Minnesota State 1 (Lance Schuveiller 37).