BISMARCK, N.D. — Rayon Simmons ran to a school record and the Winona State University football team won an NSIC road game in convincing fashion Saturday, 32-23 over previously-undefeated Univeristy of Mary.
Simmons, a senior from University City, Mo., moved past Kevin Curtin on the career rushing list with 3,993 yards. Simmons needed 47 yards entering the game and cruised past that, carrying 34 times for 176 yards and four touchdowns.
“It is a pretty cool thing and a great thing for our overall offense,” Warriors coach Tom Sawyer said. “We won’t blow it up; that’s the way Ray likes it. The older he gets, the more important it will become to him.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors grabbed three turnovers — two by the defense and one on special teams — and the offense converted them into 17 points.
Winona State (3-1, 3-1 NSIC) has won two consecutive games since its Sept. 8 loss at No. 2-ranked Minnesota-Duluth. The Warriors have scored 132 points in their three wins.
“It was a huge win for us on the road,” Sawyer said.
Warriors quarterback John Tiegland was sharp, completing 22 of 27 passes for 232 yards while hitting seven different receivers and not throwing an interception.
Winona State had 433 total yards of offense.
The Marauders (3-1, 3-1) brought the conference’s top passing offense (322.3 yards per game). Quarterback Craig Bagnell passed for 319 yards and three touchdowns.
But he was intercepted by Chris Norgaard in the second quarter, leading to a 43-yard field goal by Jake Vercher and a 19-7 Winona State lead.
Norgaard, a senior cornerback, finished with a team-high 11 tackles, two passes defended, an interception and an 85-yard kickoff return.
The Warriors scored first on a 13-yard touchdown run by Simmons but had the extra point kick blocked. Winona State converted two third downs and Tiegland hit Tyler Speer for 22 yard to set up Simmons.
Winona State recovered a fumble on a Mary punt return in the second quarter. The Warriors capitalized on a 10-yard touchdown run by Simmons that also moved him past Curtin as the program’s all-time leading rusher.
“It wasn’t just him,” Sawyer said. “Our offensive line and fullbacks were just grinding it out. They (Mary) had 10 people in the box and we just did a great job. Rayon would make one guy miss and he would run two or three more over.”
The Marauders got on the board on a 3-yard scoring pass from Bagnell to Tyler Steffan in the second quarter.
Vercher hit field goals of 26 and 43 yards to put Winona State ahead 19-7.
Mary scored the next two touchdowns — the first with three seconds left in the first half — plus a field goal to make it 19-17, but Simmons kept rolling, scoring on touchdown runs of 7 and 4 yards to give Winona State a 32-17 lead.
Bagnell threw a late touchdown pass before the Warriors held the ball for the final 6:17.