First home game is September 8 at 1 p.m. against Sioux Falls
by MITCHELL BREUER
The Winona State University football team is 1-0 after defeating Wayne State 41-28 on last Thursday.
Offensively, the team was able to establish an early lead, putting up the first points of the year with a touchdown via a 53-yard run by junior running back Javian Roebuck, who ended the day with 109-rushing yards.
The Warriors were then able to stretch their lead to 14 after a 23-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Owen Burke to junior wide receiver Jake Balliu resulted in a touchdown.
Balliu proved to be one of the key players for the team during the game, as not only would he come up with another touchdown reception, but also provide the team better field position with four returns over 25 yards.
“I think the offense had a good first outing. We had success in the air and on the ground. It all started with the offensive line opening holes for the running backs and giving Owen time to go through his progressions,” Balliu said. “We had some explosive plays, which helped shift the momentum of the game. As it is only week one, we know we have some stuff to build off of and improve in the upcoming weeks.”
Burke, who started the season as the team’s starting quarterback, also had a strong outing, passing for 248 yards, three touchdowns, and zero turnovers.
On the other side of the ball, the Warrior defense found ways to contribute too, coming up with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“Overall, I thought our defense did OK,” sophomore linebacker Carter Duxbury said. “We played well enough to win, but have a lot of work to do. Our mindset is that every snap they take is a chance for our defense to get the ball back to our offense and we took full advantage of that. With the interceptions and fumble recoveries, we were able to put our offense in some good positions to score.”
The unit’s biggest play came at the start of the second half, as Duxbury was able to turn a Wayne State fumble into a Winona State touchdown.
“The fumble recovery was one of those plays where I was just in the right spot at the right time. Right before that play I actually came up to Owen, the starting quarterback, and told him I was going to get one for them and somehow the ball fell my way,” Duxbury said. “One of our main goals is to create takeaways, and if our defense continues to swarm to the football, the ball will continue to fall our way. If all 11 of us pursue to the football we will get more and more takeaways that’ll help our team win.”
While the win proved to be a solid start to the season, the team has already turned its attention to the long season ahead.
“I believe the best way to keep the momentum rolling is to take it one day at a time. Winning last Thursday was a great feeling and a good start to the season. With that being said, once Friday morning hits that means we go back to work,” Balliu said. “As a team, we need to stay hungry and put the time in on and off the field. We have a great group of guys and have big expectations for our season. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week.”
In their next game, the Warriors will make their home debut hosting the University of Sioux Falls. The game will be held on September 8 with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.