DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Wayne State seemed right at home on the road once again, and likely earned another lengthy trip for its troubles.
Troy Burrell caught 11 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns Saturday to lead Wayne State to a 31-25 victory over Minnesota Duluth in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Leading 7-3 at halftime, the Warriors scored 24 second-half points to defeat the defending champions and snap Minnesota Duluth’s 14-game home winning streak.
In its first trip to the NCAA playoffs, Wayne State (13-1) has also won games at St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Kearney, and the Detroit school will next face No. 1 seed Winston-Salem in the semifinals. Winston-Salem (13-0) beat New Haven 27-7 at home on Saturday and is expected to host next week’s game.
“We really enjoy being on the road, after these last three weeks,” said Burrell, a senior who set school records for receptions in a season and in a career. “We have a sense of family and we come together when it’s just us. We have an attitude like it’s us against the world.”
The Warriors were held to just four first downs in the opening half, and Minnesota Duluth held the ball for more than 20 minutes but got only three points.
“We’ve been in that situation before where you have the ball a long time and don’t score, and we’ve lost usually,” said Wayne State coach Paul Winters. “So it didn’t matter that they were holding the football, they weren’t scoring. That’s all we cared about.”
In the third quarter, the Warriors turned the tables, scoring 17 points, recovering a squib kick and allowing the Bulldogs offense to run just two plays in the quarter.
“They converted a couple of real critical third downs in situations where we had them off schedule,” said Bulldogs coach Bob Nielson. “That kept those drives alive, and those were things in the first half where we did a great job on third down defense.”
Zach Hulce had 16 carries for 76 yards to lead the Bulldogs on the ground, but was ejected in the fourth quarter for throwing a punch. Minnesota Duluth (11-3) was held to just 98 yards rushing.
Bulldogs quarterback Chase Vogler was 16 of 28 for 202 yards and a touchdown, but threw a critical fourth-quarter interception and was sacked five times in the first half.
“I just underthrew the guy,” Vogler said. “Other than that I wouldn’t take anything back from this game.”
The Bulldogs, Division II champions in 2008 and last year, got the ball back on their own 11 with 43 seconds remaining, and drove to the Warriors 39. But Vogler’s pass into the end zone on the final play was batted down.
Toney Davis had 22 carries for 88 yards for the Warriors.
“We never expected anything less than what we’ve accomplished thus far. We expect to keep winning,” said Warriors cornerback Aaron Cornett. “Numbers don’t mean much to us as long as we come up with a win at the end of the game.”
The Bulldogs defeated Saginaw Valley State and Colorado State-Pueblo to advance to the Division II quarterfinals.
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