Wayne State football coach Dan McLaughlin hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
But this season has been tough — really tough — for him and his Wildcats.
McLaughlin expected big things from this team, which instead has stumbled to 2-6 and 1-3 in the Northern Sun South Division.
The last two losses have been particularly heartbreaking.
“We have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” McLaughlin said.
Wayne State led Concordia-St. Paul 24-13 Saturday, but two fumbles in the final three minutes proved costly in a 28-24 loss.
The week before against Winona State, Wayne scored with 1:07 left to take a 41-38 lead. The Wildcats then failed to stop a screen play that defensive coordinator Mike Aldrich had predicted, and the Warriors went 65 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Wayne lost its first game in triple overtime and another when it had five turnovers.
“It’s not like we’re just terrible, but we are 2-6 and that equates to not very good,” McLaughlin said. “I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. We just haven’t gotten it done, and the record reflects that.”
Turnovers have been the biggest bugaboo. The Wildcats have had 23 in eight games, leading to 84 points for their opponents.
It’s something they’ve worked on at practice, but the issue hasn’t gone away.
Still, McLaughlin is proud of his team’s effort. In the Winona game, the Wildcats overcame a safety and a blocked punt early on the road to take the last-minute lead.
“The kids are fighting hard, they are resilient,” he said. “They are doing everything they can. It’s just been hard.”
It doesn’t get any easier with No. 1 Minnesota State on Saturday.
Despite the tall task, McLaughlin said he has to focus on his own team’s issues before he starts worrying about stopping the Mavericks.
“You’ve got to do your job,” he said. “Take care of the football, protect the ball. Do what you are supposed to do.”
There have been good moments.
Charlie Davidson surpassed 1,000 yards rushing Saturday and has averaged 128.6 yards per game. Zach Osborn, a redshirt freshman quarterback from Harlan, Iowa, has thrown for 1,784 yards and 16 touchdowns. Adam Stark of Elkhorn is averaging 23 yards a catch, with 27 receptions and five touchdowns.
“We’ve done some good things,” McLaughlin said. “We have some kids playing well, we just have to put it all together.”
Seybold dazzles for Gorillas
Pittsburg State running back Jeff Seybold, a junior from Lincoln Southwest, was chosen as the MIAA offensive athlete of the week.
Seybold carried the ball a career-high 24 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 12 Pitt State to a 34-14 victory over No. 4 Missouri Western on Saturday.
Seybold, a redshirt freshman at UNO before the program disbanded, has rushed for 910 yards and 15 touchdowns.
He was a backup when the Gorillas won a national championship in 2011 and played just two games last year before a season-ending ankle injury.
Safety Jason Peete, who blocked a field-goal attempt and returned it 56 yards for a score Saturday, is another starter from UNO, as is offensive tackle Boston Higgins.
The Gorillas’ only loss came against Northwest Missouri State, which improved to 8-0 after beating Missouri Southern 43-7 Saturday. Brady Bolles, from Lincoln North Star, was 13 for 20 with 193 yards and one touchdown and ran for another score.
In other football news:
» Linebacker Curtis Larsen, a senior from Plattsmouth, piled up 12 tackles — 11 unassisted — as Peru State defeated Central Methodist 51-24. He also grabbed one interception for the No. 9 Bobcats. Peru State (7-1, 5-1) is in a three-way tie for second in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
» Sophomore Romero Cotton ran 31 times for 148 yards and a touchdown and caught a 10-yard TD pass in the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s 28-14 win over Southwest Baptist on Saturday. He’s been UNK’s featured back the last four games and is ninth in the MIAA with 69.9 rushing yards per game.
Cotton also is ranked No. 1 at 197 pounds for the wrestling team. He was 9-2 last year and finished as a runner-up at nationals.
Linebacker Kellen Werner had nine tackles Saturday to push his career total to 278, five behind DJ Vokolek for the most by a Loper in the Division II era.
Frauendorfer on fire
Wayne State’s Alyssa Frauendorfer, a 6-foot freshman middle hitter from Humphrey, Neb., had back-to-back career highs in kills against then-No. 4 Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State last weekend.
Frauendorfer had 18 kills and five blocks with a .421 attack percentage in a five-set loss to UMD on Friday, and had 20 kills with five blocks and a .515 attack percentage in a 3-1 win over St. Cloud State.
Frauendorfer leads the No. 18 Wildcats (17-7, 8-6 NSIC) in attack percentage (.335) and blocks per game (0.93). Her hitting percentage ranks eighth in the NSIC.
In other volleyball news:
» MJ Massanet has been named the MIAA hitter of the week after recording double-doubles in all three of No. 7 UNK’s wins last week. She averaged 4.56 kills and 4.00 digs per set and hit .326.
» Hastings College and Midland University will meet in a GPAC volleyball showdown on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Hastings.
Hastings is 19-10 and 10-3 after falling to Northwestern (29-1, 13-0) over the weekend. No. 7 Midland is 29-2 and 11-2 after edging Morningside in five sets.
» Four Chadron State players had double-digit kills as the Eagles snapped a 15-match skid in a 3-1 victory over Western State on Friday. Erika Roybal and Ana Kasljevic had 12 kills apiece, Barbie DeCent added 11 and Alia Brennan 10.