Team to take on Augustana Nov. 9
by MITCHELL BREUER
From The Winonan, WSU’s student newspaper
After losing to Minnesota State University - Mankato last week, the Winona State University football team took back to their winning ways after defeating Southwest Minnesota State University 45-7 this past Saturday, November 4.
The offense was led by first-year quarterback Owen Burke, who made his second start of the season.
“I just try to prepare myself as if I am playing every week, whether it’s watching film or studying the play book and if I get an opportunity to play I just try to take full advantage of the opportunity,” Burke said.
In comparison to his first start, Burke improved significantly. He completed 11 of his 20 passes for 126 yards with zero interceptions and a pair of touchdowns received by sophomore wide receivers Devon Moore and Tanner Gran.
“I thought I was more confident in my second start and settled in quicker. The whole offense played well and the guys around me made some great plays,” Burke said.
Along with the passing attack, the run game proved to be a vocal part of the offense as well.
“We have some good athletes at the running back position, but our O-line fullbacks and tight ends play really well. When they can play so dominantly, it allows us to get to the second level and keep the chains moving,” first-year Landon Jacobson said. “When teams have to respect the run, it opens up the pass so really everything contributes to the success of the run game.”
While junior Eric Birth received the most carries, Jacobson and fellow first-year Sam Santiago-Lloyd contributed as well, with each running over 30-yards and scoring a touchdown.
“I expected to split some more time with Eric and Sam, which is exciting,” Jacobson said. “We knew the run game would be big this week with the way they play defense but up front our guys work so hard, which makes it easier to do our job. It’s the most time I’ve gotten and I made some mistakes but during this time of the year I just have to learn from it and take it into next week and continue to get better.”
Sophomore Jake Balliu provided a spark during the first quarter, as he returned a punt 79-yards for a Warrior touchdown, marking the second time he has done so this season.
Defensively, Winona reigned supreme coming up with five turnovers and three sacks throughout the game with senior Andrew Spencer, junior Josh Hawes, first-years Isaiah Hall and Trey Telez all coming up with interceptions.
“As a defense, we pride ourselves in creating turnovers and giving the ball back to our offense so they are in the best position to put points on the board,” sophomore Romario Gayle said. “We approach each game the same way, everyone just needs to do their game and don’t try to do too much but just follow the game plan our coaches lay out for us and that’s been a big part of our success this year.”
The team will close out the regular season at home this Thursday, November 9, at 7 p.m. as they take on Augustana University.