MANKATO, Minn. — Less than 1 minute, 30 seconds into the Winona State University football team’s game at Minnesota State on Saturday, the Warriors dug themselves a hole.
Winona State junior quarterback Owen Burke threw an interception on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and the third-ranked Mavericks scored three plays later to take an early seven-point lead, an advantage they wouldn’t give up en route to a 20-6 victory.
The 14-point win was Minnesota State’s (4-0, 4-0 NSIC) smallest margin of victory this season. The Warriors have lost their last three games to the Mavericks.
This was the first game this season that Winona State failed to score a touchdown.
Despite the loss, the Warriors (2-2, 2-2) held a potent Minnesota State rushing attack — which entered the game averaging 316 yards per game — to 152 yards, 119 of which came in the second half. Nate Gunn led the Mavericks on the ground with 107 yards, but it took him 27 carries to reach that total.
Although Minnesota State totaled more yards in the second half, it did most of its damage in the first half. Gunn found the end zone twice in the first quarter on runs of 1 and 6 yards. The first came after Burke’s interception to open the game, and the second came on a fourth down late in the quarter to put the Mavericks up 14-0.
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Winona State’s defense kept Minnesota State out of the end zone after the first quarter, but its offense struggled to move the ball. The Warriors totaled just 187 yards and turned the ball over three times, all Burke interceptions.
Burke completed 15 of his 31 passes for 107 yards. Junior running back Sam Santiago-Lloyd rushed for 81 yards on 23 carries, and senior receiver Tyler Knutson had five catches for 50 yards.
Paul Ortiz connected on two field goals for Winona State, one from 41 yards and one from 28, which capped off 18- and 13-play drives, the two longest Warriors drives. The former went 54 yards, and the latter, which ended on the Minnesota State 11, went 67 yards.
Ortiz has made five of his six field goal attempts on the season, and his 41-yard make was his longest of the year.
Winona State is back in action at 1 p.m. Oct. 5, when it takes on Minnesota State-Moorhead in Moorhead, Minnesota.