Release courtesy of the Wayne State University Sports Information Department
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MINNESOTA DULUTH STORYLINES
The 33rd-ranked Wayne State University football team (10-3) advanced to the Super Region 3 championship game for the first time in school history by upending fourth-ranked Nebraska Kearney, 38-26, on Nov. 26.
The Warriors will face the defending national champion Bulldogs of the University of Minnesota Duluth (11-2) this Saturday in a noon kickoff (Central time) in Duluth. This will be the first meeting between the schools in football and the first December game in the 94-year history of WSU football.
WSU has won back-to-back road games in the playoffs and has been victorious in seven of its last eight contests away from Detroit with the only setback coming on a last second field goal at Ashland on Oct. 15. Wayne State is 19-5 in its last 24 contests and has a 10-2 mark in its last 12 road games. After recording their best start (6-0) since 1974, the Warriors are 4-3 in their last seven games.
UMD has won four straight since a 35-7 loss at St. Cloud State on Oct. 29. The only other setback (by a 7-0 score) for the Bulldogs came on Sept. 17 at Wayne State (Neb.) College. Minnesota Duluth has won 14 consecutive home games since a 24-10 loss to Grand Valley on Nov. 28, 2009.
NEBRASKA KEARNEY RECAP
Wayne State set a school record with 10 wins after defeating Nebraska Kearney in an NCAA Second Round Playoff game last Saturday.
The Warriors raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first six minutes of the contest on a Josh Renel one-yard plunge and a 47-yard interception return by Jeremy Jones.
WSU added 17 points in the second quarter as Toney Davis scored on a four-yard run following Jones' second pick of the afternoon, then Troy Burrell hauled in a 26-yard scoring pass from Mickey Mohner. Stefan Terleckyj concluded the first half scoring with a season-best 43-yard field goal.
The Lopers tallied the only points of the third period on a two-yard run by Rustin Dring. Following an eight-yard scoring run by UNK's Stephan Rush, Renel went in from six yards out with 3:29 left to seal the win.
Renel (121 yards) and Davis (69 yards) combined for 190 of WSU's 207 rushing yards. Mohner completed 8-of-17 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. Burrell had team-highs in receptions (4) and receiving yards (73).
Dring led the Lopers with 121 rushing yards, while Harlon Hill finalist Jake Spitzlberger passed for 230 yards on 19-of-40 but was intercepted three times by Jones, who broke the school record for interception return yards in a game with 144.
ON THE HEADSET
Head coach Paul Winters, the reigning AFCA Region Coach of the Year, is in his eighth season at the helm of the Wayne State football program and guided the Warriors to their first NCAA Division II playoff appearance and victories in school history. Winters (46-42) passed Joseph G. Gembis (1932-45) for first on the WSU career wins all-time list with the Oct. 22 victory over Hillsdale.
Bob Nielson has a 90-23 record in his ninth year with the Bulldogs. In 23 years as a collegiate head coach, Nielson has compiled a 160-56-1 mark.
JONES BREAKS TWO SCHOOL RECORDS
Jones' three interceptions and 144 return yards nearly equaled two NCAA Division II playoff records. Vince Buck of Central State had four picks vs. Towson on Nov. 28, 1986, while William Felton of Albany State (GA) garnered 154 interception return yards on Nov. 20, 2004, vs. Arkansas Tech.
The 144 interception return yards was a school record and increased his career total to an all-time best of 406 yards.
MINNESOTA DULUTH'S HISTORY
The Bulldogs have won two national titles (2008 and 2010) and are competing in the NCAA tournament for the sixth time (2002-05-08-09-10-11). UMD has won 16 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Championship titles, a North Central Conference Championship in 2005 and three Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships (1960-61-73).
Minnesota Duluth leads the NSIC in rushing offense (243.69 ypg), a mark which ranks 10th nationally. UMD is 56th in scoring offense averaging nearly 30 points per contest.
Fifteen (15) Bulldogs received All-NSIC North Division recognition for 2011, including three-time selections senior placekicker David Nadeau and senior strong safety Cody Eich.
Zach Hulce and Brian Lucas have each rushed for over 800 yards garnering 857 and 829 yards, respectively. Hulce leads the squad with 12 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Chase Vogler has rushed for 682 yards, while completing 65 percent (163-of-252) of his passes for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Zach Zweifel (35-426), Joe Reichert (34-425) and Aaron Roth (31-293) combined have accounted for 61 percent of the receptions. Reichert has a team-best four TD catches.
Nadeau has connected on all 49 extra-point attempts, and made 12-of-15 field goal attempts for a team-leading 85 points.
Minnesota Duluth ranks sixth in total defense (273.69 ypg), while ranking 11th in both rushing defense (101.46 ypg) and scoring defense (18.0 ppg). The Bulldogs are 17th in pass defense (172.23 ypg).
Colby Ring leads UMD with 92 tackles (46-46), while Eich is second with 85 stops (45-40). Rob Huberty has a team-leading 13 tackles for loss, while Gavin Brown has a team-best 5.5 sacks.
UPCOMING SEASON MILESTONES
Davis needs 77 rushing yards to pass Joe Gough (1992) at 1,340 yards for fifth place. Renel needs 100 yards to equal Gough.
Davis is fourth in rushing touchdowns (19), and needs three to tie Joique Bell (2006) for third place. Renel has tied his 2010 mark of 14 rushing touchdowns, which ranks sixth all-time.
Mohner needs 85 passing yards to move into first place. Mark Friday (1993) holds the record with 2,478 yards.
Mohner set the single-season record for passing touchdowns with his second quarter strike to Burrell vs. Nebraska Kearney.
Burrell needs 110 receiving yards to tie Pierre Brown (2000) for the WSU single-season record and two receptions to equal Nick Body's (2003) season mark. His 13 receiving touchdowns are the most since 2000.
Jones and Aaron Cornett could be the first defensive backs since Bobby Boyer in 2004 to lead the team in tackles. Jones (76 tackles) and Cornett (74 tackles) lead linebackers Ed Viverette and Raleigh Ross, who each have 60 tackles.
WSU needs 146 rushing yards to break the school record of 2,910 set in 1975.
The Warriors have already broken the school marks for rushing touchdowns (37) set by the 2007 squad (32); total offense (5,233) set by the 2000 squad (4,551); all-purpose yards (6,636) set by the 2000 team (5,822); points (477) set last year (347); touchdowns (64), accomplished three times before at 45.
The 20 interceptions is tied for fifth most in school history. The 1983 set the standard with 35 picks.
UPCOMING CAREER MILESTONES
Renel and Davis are tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns with 28. Joe Gough (1991-94) is third with 33.
Mohner has already set school records for career completions (382), passing yards (5,532) and passing touchdowns (45).
Burrell needs six receptions to equal Ray Ponder (1989-92) for first.
Renel (180 points), Davis (174) and Terleckyj (170) rank seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively in all-time scoring at WSU. Steve Lee (1988-91) is sixth with 182 points, while David Chudzinski (2205-08) is fifth with 206 points.
Terleckyj needs four made extra points to eclipse Chudzinski's school record of 107.
Jones moved into first place on the interception return yards chart after accumulating 144 return yards at Nebraska Kearney. He broke Chuck Aldrich's 29-year-old record of 373 yards. Jones has 406 yards on 17 career interceptions, which ranks fourth all-time. Jones also moved into second place in career passes defended with 39. Tony Hawk (1992-92, 96-97) has the all-time mark at 54.