DETROIT - The Wayne State Warriors (1-4) hosted the Northern Michigan Wildcats (3-2) Saturday night. On homecoming night, Northern Michigan came away with the 37-30 victory.
Going into halftime the Warriors led 21-17. The Wildcats outscored WSU 20-9 in the final two quarters. The second half numbers are slightly misleading because WSU scored a touchdown with zero seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Pads were cracking all night at Tom Adams Field —multiple players from both teams went down with injuries.
WSU head coach Paul Winters said he liked the physicality his team played with, but a couple defensive mistakes stood out.
“It was very physical and I thought our guys came out and played the way we wanted them to play physically,” Winters said. “There’s two plays that stand out to me. We give up a 70+ yard run where nobody touches the guy; I can’t comprehend that. Then we give up a swing pass where nobody touches the guy, and that’s got to get corrected.”
The WSU backfield had a different look than usual. Four different running backs carried the ball for the Warriors. Redshirt junior running back Kendall Williams had over 100 yards from scrimmage, with 73 of them coming from his work as a receiver. Redshirt sophomore running back Myren Harris usually commands the backfield with Williams.
Harris fumbled the ball on the one yard line midway through the third quarter. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Kulka picked up the fumble and ran across the goal line to turn a potential turnover into a touchdown.
Sophomore running back Te’Avion Warren tallied five carries for 32 yards on the night. Graduate running back Karmi Mackey ran in a one yard touchdown late in the first quarter as well.
Winters said a committee backfield isn’t quite what he prefers.
“It’s tough because I like to get somebody heated up,” Winters said. “Williams was doing a great job, but he got poked in the eye and his eye was bleeding so we couldn’t do anything with him. Harris was running okay, but he fumbled on the goal line. I think Warren stepped up and did a nice job today, and I thought Mackey and Harris did some good things, but it wasn’t enough to say ‘you’re going to get all the reps’ because I’ve got other good football players that need to play.”
Despite the final score, the Warrior offense appeared to have more success Saturday night than in previous games. The WSU offense finished with 437 total yards of offense, a single game season-high.
Warrior fans in attendance saw Kulka come out of the game with an apparent head injury in the fourth quarter. Redshirt freshman Elijah Taylor came in to replace Kulka and ran in a touchdown in the weaning seconds of the game. Winters said Kulka’s injury shouldn’t be something to worry about.
“I don’t think it’s too severe,” Winters said. “They didn’t call targeting, which I think they missed. I think the officials as a whole don’t want to call targeting because you throw a guy out of a game. But, why do we have targeting if we’re not going to call it? I think Kulka will be okay.”
WSU has two road games before they play in Detroit again. Winters said the road trips could end up helping the team like they did in previous years.
“When you’re struggling like we are right now, everybody has an answer as to why you’re struggling,” Winters said. “Getting on the road and taking a long road trip, you kind of just (think) it’s just us and I think that’ll be a big positive for our kids. It helped us in 2019 going to Quincy just finding ourselves, and this is an opportunity for us to find ourselves.”
WSU travels to Houghton, Mich. next Saturday to play Michigan Tech.
Ronnie Martin is the sports editor for The South End. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo provided by Jackson Meade, multimedia editor for The South End. He can be reached at email@example.com.