SMSU FOOTBALL: SMSU faces Winona State in annual ‘Battle for the Sledge’
MARSHALL — The Southwest Minnesota State University football team (2-4, 1-1 NSIC South) looks to rebound following a homecoming loss last Saturday with a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division match-up this Saturday at Winona State University (3-3, 0-1 NSIC South). Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium in Winona.
•Saturday’s showdown is a ‘trophy game’ as SMSU and WSU are meeting up for the sixth annual ‘Battle for the Sledge’ presented by BIG Athletics and Adidas.
•WSU has won the previous four games in the series with SMSU’s last victory coming in 2015.
•WSU, which opened the season 2-0, has lost three of its last four games, including two straight.
•Saturday’s game will be broadcast on 105.1 FM KARL with ninth-year SMSU play-by-play voice Ryan Rohlik.
•Live stats, radio broadcast and video can be found at SMSUmustangs.com.
for the “Battle
for the Sledge”
•Saturday’s game will be the sixth annual “Battle for the Sledge”, presented by BIG Athletics and Adidas.
•The trophy is a seven-foot tall Sledge Hammer. In addition to the sledge trophy, BIG Athletics will also be providing two MVP trophies to be awarded to a player on each team.
•Here is the history behind the naming of the trophy game, “Battle for the Sledge”: During the 2008 season, during warm-ups of the WSU/SMSU game on Oct. 4, a WSU player brought a sledgehammer to mid-field while SMSU players looked on. SMSU went on to earn a 35-28 victory over WSU, snapping the Warriors’ seven-game winning streak in the series. Following the game, SMSU players ran over to the WSU sideline and grabbed the sledgehammer, celebrating the victory at midfield. With emotions running high for both teams, a WSU player went over to the SMSU sideline to get its sledgehammer back. SMSU eventually gave the sledgehammer back and a rivalry was born.
Mustang opening drive tidbits
•Junior linebacker Onte Burns continues to lead the NSIC in tackles with 11 per game and is 10th in Division II. He also ranks second nationally with 7.8 solo tackles per game.
•Senior linebacker Gage Roberson ranks second on the team (10th in the NSIC) with 41 tackles including a team-leading 4.5 for loss.
•Freshman safety Hunter Bohannon registered his team-leading second interception of the season last Saturday.
•Senior Adihia Bell’s 59-yard punt return last week versus Sioux Falls was the longest by an SMSU player since Andrew McReynolds had an 89-yard return for a touchdown on Sept. 27, 2014.
•SMSU has rushed for more than 135 yards in five of six games this season, including a season-high 241 in Week 4 at Concordia-St. Paul. In 2019, SMSU reached 100 yards rushing in just three games, while in 2018, SMSU reached the 100 yard rushing mark just four times.
•Tom Sawyer is in his 25th and final season as head coach with a record of 193-88. Sawyer is second nationally in total wins among active Division II coaches. Only West Chester’s Bill Zwaan (202) currently has more victories. Sawyer has led WSU to the NCAA playoff s six times and four Mineral Water Bowl appearances.
•WSU has lost two straight, including a 52-49 home setback to Northern State last Saturday afternoon.
•Senior quarterback Owen Burke completed 22 of 38 passes for 334 yards and five touchdowns but was intercepted three times in the loss. For the season, Burke has completed 105 of 188 passes for 1,589 yards and 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
•Sophomore running back Dominink London rushed for 59 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries in the loss to NSU. London is the team’s top rusher with 292 yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries.
•Senior kick returner and wide receiver Jake Balliu, was named the NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday following a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Saturday. He also had a punt return for a touchdown this season.
•Junior wide receiver Ethan Wittenburg has caught 19 passes for a team-high 449 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
•Sophomore linebacker Clay Schueffner has racked up a team-high 50 tackles.
— Content courtesy
of SMSU Athletic