The Winona State football team used big plays in all three phases of the game to post a 49-32 victory over Upper Iowa in both team's NSIC South opener Saturday in Winona.
The Warriors scored three touchdowns of over 30 yards in the passing game, returned an interception for a score and added a blocked punt touchdown while winning their third consecutive game.
Quarterback Jack Nelson threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Tony Mueller, Cameron Johnson and Alan May for long scoring strikes.
The big plays began early for the Warriors as the team jumped out to a 28-3 advantage midway through the second quarter. WSU got on the board on a 34-yard scoring strike from Nelson to Mueller. After a UIU field goal, Winona State got back on the board with Nelson hitting Cameron Johnson for a 40-yard score.
WSU immediately added another touchdown, with Patrick Lazzara intercepting a Cole Jaeschke pass on Upper Iowa's next possession and returning it 27 yards for a score. Jordan Kos added his first of two touchdowns on the night later in the second quarter to put the Warriors up 28-3.
Upper Iowa began to mount a comeback, scoring with 1:08 left in the first half and added two touchdowns to begin the third quarter to cut the Warrior lead to 28-25.
Winona State took over from there, with May and Nelson connecting on a 53-yard scoring strike. May ended the game with four receptions for 108 yards, the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
After forcing an Upper Iowa punt, Mitch Lunder broke through to block the kick, which was picked up by Kyle Coon and brought back 15 yards for a WSU special teams touchdown and a 42-25 Warrior lead. Winona State added an eight-yard insurance touchdown from Kos to cement the victory late in the fourth.
The Warriors did not commit a turnover on the game, while earning four takeaways on defense. Lazzara intercepted a pair of passes while also forcing a fumble that was recovered by Jarrett Wood. Lunder also picked off a Jaeschke pass that stalled a Peacock drive in WSU territory.
Matt Splon, AJ Shipp, Collin Corcoran and Morgan Weaver all collected a team-high nine tackles while Lazzara made eight.
Winona State (3-2 overall) will return to action next Saturday when it travels to take on the Cougars of Sioux Falls.
--Courtesy Winona State Athletics