MANKATO — Mankato East football coach Eric Davis was forced to reflect back on his experiences as an assistant coach at Minnesota State Friday night when Cougars' Big Nine Conference game with Winona was suspended at halftime due to inclement weather.
"I draw my experience from when I was coaching at MSU," Davis said moments before the game was rescheduled for 3 p.m. today at Wolverton Field. "The key is you have to be ready to go whether it's in 15 minutes or an hour. You can't keep the focus sharp for the entire time you have to treat it like another halftime once you get the chance to come out and play."
East (1-4) looked like it might be in some serious trouble early on after senior wide receiver Terran Cross hauled in a rocket over the middle from quarterback Jeffrey Schultz and raced 89 yards for a touchdown on the Winhawks' second play from scrimmage.
Winona (1-4) stretched its lead to 13-0 midway through the second quarter on a 6-yard TD run around right end by Matthew Clark before the Cougars used three exceptional defensive plays to stem the tide. Senior defensive back Tyler Substad's ability to trip up Clark for a three yard loss from the East 1-yard line was followed by Brett Duit's fumble recovery moments later.
Sophmore running back Robert Miller's 11-yard run and junior quarterback Nick Seiler's 27-yard scramble down the left side line set up Seiler's 3-yard TD run with 3:06 left in the half to close the gap to 13-7. Winona then marched deep into Cougars' territory before Duit and Lucus Riha teamed up to stop Schultz a yard short of the goal line on the final play of the opening half.
The contest was then delayed by lightning for more than an hour before finally being rescheduled for today.
"We had a chance to fold but we hung in there and our defense kept us where we needed to be until we found some things we could do offensively," Davis said. "Nick didn't have a lot of time early in the game, but we made some protection adjustments and that gave him some time to throw the ball."