Big plays, defensive stand highlight WSU Spring Game

The Winona State football team brought its spring practice schedule to a close Saturday with its spring game, getting strong performances from both sides of the ball.

The game featured different in-game situations and saw the offense make big plays while the defense was able to come up with key stops.

Offensively the highlight of the day came with the unit backed up to their own three yardline. Paul Preston took a handoff and darted around the left side for a 97-yard touchdown, going untouched into the end zone. Preston was the day’s workhorse, rushing 22 times for 129 yards and three touchdowns.

The Warriors were also able to collect big plays in the passing game, with three quarterbacks combining to throw for 360 yards and a pair of scores. Jack Nelson, the 2013 NSIC Newcomer of the Year, passed for 220 yards and a score, hitting freshman Justin Bergeron for a 31-yard touchdown early in the game.

Darren Beenken, a freshman quarterback who redshirted last season, was impressive, completing five of seven pass attempts for 132 yards and a touchdown. His scoring pass was a highlight, hitting Tamrick Atwood for an 80-yard catch and run.

Eleven different Warrior receivers caught a pass on the afternoon. Tony Mueller made three grabs for 74 yards while Bergeron gained 51 yards on his three catches.

The Winona State defense also proved to be stout, holding the Warrior offense to just 2.3 yards per rush. They were also able to record five sacks, with Tyler Kubler, Davonte Willcox-Ransom, Jack Janett, Austin Opfer and Derek Smidt all getting to the quarterback.

Keith Schwickerath intercepted a pass while defensive back Nick Horne led the team with six tackles.

The defense’s highlight came during a defensive stand where it kept the high-powered Warrior offense from scoring after the series began with the defense backed to their own five yardline.

Winona State will open its 2014 season with a road contest against Northern State on Sept. 4. The team will play its first home game of the season the following week, hosting U-Mary on Sept. 13.

–Courtesy Winona State Athletics