Warriors slice through Beavers
Minot State ‘awful’ in 47-7 homecoming drubbing by Winona State
Minot State football coach Mike Aldrich didn’t feel the need to sugarcoat much Saturday.
He preferred to let his team’s 47-7 blowout loss to Winona State on its own home field on homecoming week speak for itself.
“I think we played awful, and it showed,” Aldrich said. “I think this was the first awful game we’ve played, I don’t know if I’d say from start to finish, but definitely for three quarters. We laid an egg and didn’t play very well at all.”
Winona State (4-0) dominated MSU (0-4) in nearly every aspect of the game. WSU outgained the Beavers 447-195 in total offense, forced three MSU turnovers and scored 27 unanswered points to end the game. The Beavers have not scored in the second half in four games.
That didn’t have the makings of a happy postgame locker room.
“(It was) awful,” Aldrich said. “They’re going to echo my feelings and personality. I told them I was really disappointed with how we played and I was disappointed in our lack of competition. I don’t think we fought at the end. We talk about being accountable and they need to really look in the mirror when they start taking their pads off and ask themselves if they truly did what they needed to do to put us in a position to win.
“We’ll come back and watch the film with them and let them know when we thought that didn’t happen, which will be quite frequently. The mood is one of silence and disappointment. I don’t think we prepared very well this week either, so this could be a product of our week of practice.”
MSU appeared to catch a break before the game when it was announced Winona State starting quarterback Darren Beenken would not play due to injury. The Warriors were forced to play backup Owen Burke, who was making his first collegiate start.
“It didn’t really change anything for us,” Aldrich said. “Our goal once we saw that was going to happen was to bring some pressure. That first drive we were really successful in doing so and we had two sacks. We took advantage of it early, but then we got ourselves so off-kilter that it didn’t really play into our hand.”
After forcing an opening drive punt, MSU surrendered two field goals, a 53-yard punt return touchdown and a 7-yard touchdown pass to dig itself an early 20-0 hole. The Beavers had five total yards offensively after the first quarter.
MSU responded in the second quarter with a 9-play, 66-yard touchdown drive capped off by quarterback Zac Cunha finding running back Larry Overstreet for a 5-yard touchdown.
On Winona State’s next offensive series, Minot native Matt Marler recovered a fumble and gave the Beavers prime field position at the WSU 35. Yet, MSU couldn’t take advantage of the short field and went 3-and-out.
The Beavers forced another turnover before halftime, as cornerback Justin Gonzalez undercut a poorly thrown pass from Burke to give the Beavers the ball at the WSU 20. Two incomplete passes and a sack later, MSU had only gone backward on the drive.
“We had the opportunity to get back in the game, there’s no doubt,” Aldrich said. “We had two takeaways that gave us a short field and I think for our guys it was a shot to their abilities to where the quit starting to creep back into them.”
MSU tried its hand at a 40-yard field goal, but JoseLuis Moreno’s kick was blocked. Moreno picked up a personal foul after the play, and WSU running back Javian Roebuck made the Beavers pay by taking the next play 52 yards for a touchdown. The Warriors added a field goal to make the MSU deficit 30-7 at halftime.
“The blocked field goal, I’m not sure if I’d call it a block field goal as much as a miss because we kicked it right into them, I think that was the one that really made me upset,” Aldrich said. “Because not only did we miss, we had a personal foul on top of it, gave them a short field and gave up a touchdown right away.”
Cunha had a rough first half, completing 7 of 16 passes for 63 yards, a touchdown and an interception. At halftime, Aldrich decided to replace his sixth-year senior with junior Andy Jones.
“It was obviously something we thought about at the half even before we went into the locker room,” Aldrich said. “We needed something to change, Zac was missing some throws that he can’t miss. But he took a hit on the last drive and may have partially separated his shoulder, we don’t know yet. We had him go out in the second half to see how it would be, but Zac said his shoulder was tightening and couldn’t make the throws we needed him to. So that was kind of a two-headed monster in making that decision.”
Jones was 10-of-15 for 92 yards and an interception in relief of Cunha. He also rushed for 17 yards, tying him with Overstreet for a team-high. Aldrich wouldn’t commit to either quarterback as the starter entering next week’s game against the University of Mary.
“We’ll have to really go back and look at the film,” Aldrich said. “I can’t really tell you that our quarterback play is what lost us the game. We were completely terrible on special teams, that may have lost us the game. Our punt team was awful. So I think there was so many things we did wrong I wouldn’t say there’s a definite decision at the quarterback spot. We also have to see what Zac’s prognostics are. There’s just too many things going wrong right now for me to pinpoint anything at any one guy.”
MSU was pushed around offensively, only rushing for 40 yards and allowing three sacks.
“They beat us up front, there’s no way to sugarcoat that,” Aldrich said. “We’re not going to abandon running the football even though we still might be trying to find our identity a little bit. They’re a good defensive front and they took advantage of us. That’s like adding fuel to dry grass a little bit. We have to be so much better upfront. We still need to run the ball, I know our rushing numbers were terrible, but hopefully we can use that as motivation going forward.”
For Winona State, Burke was 9 of 23 passing for 114 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Eric Birth had a game-high 103 rushing yards as the Warriors ran for 335 yards.
Overstreet led the Beavers with 59 receiving yards on five catches, while Lane Torgerson had five catches for 36 yards. Donnell Vercher had 10 tackles and an interception defensively for MSU.
The Beavers are back in action at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against U-Mary in Bismarck.
“I don’t know if any game is a must-win game, but obviously it’s a game that we have just as much a chance to win as any other game,” Aldrich said. “They’re might have been some guys that we’re looking past this current game. We obviously have the rivalry game coming up and maybe that’s why we were so flat. I think our kids better believe it’s a must-win game and they need to win that football game.”
Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.