MANKATO, Minn. -

Jack Nelson threw for 216 yards but the Winona State football team fell to No. 1 Minnesota State 44-10 Saturday in Mankato.

Despite a strong wind, Nelson was able to throw the ball downfield successfully, completing 16-of-30 passes on the day. He found five different receivers but was sacked nine times by an aggressive Minnesota State defense.

Minnesota State staked itself to an early 20-0 lead, getting a 52 yard scoring pass from Jon Wolf to Austin Rieder and a Wolf touchdown run in the first quarter. A punt return for a touchdown by Dennis Carter put the Mavericks three scores ahead early in the second.

Winona State got one touchdown back late in the half, with Nelson hitting Alan May for a seven-yard score. The touchdown was set up by a 58 yard pass to Tony Mueller and cut the MSU lead to 20-7. MSU kicked a field goal as time ran out in the half, taking a 23-7 lead to the locker room.

MSU scored on its first drive of the second half to go up 30-7. The Warriors answered with a long drive of their own, but were forced to settle for a 28 yard field goal from Brett Cochran-Bray.

Minnesota State then added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to push its advantage to 44-10.

Cameron Johnson led the Warriors with five catches for 86 yards while Chichi Ojika caught four passes for 19 yards. Mueller and May each added three receptions each.

Winona State struggled running the football, with Ojika leading the team with just 22 yards.

Matt Splon led the Warrior defense with nine tackles while Ryan Gerts and Patrick Lazzara each had eight. Splon forced a first quarter fumble that Gerts recovered, the lone MSU turnover of the day.

The Warriors (5-3 overall, 3-1 NSIC South) will return to action next weekend when they travel to Marshall, Minn. for a matchup against Southwest Minnesota State.

--Courtesy Winona State Athletics