Wayne State rolls, setting up showdown with Ferris

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Wayne State's Romello Brown scores one of his three rushing touchdowns against Saginaw Valley State.

Detroit -- Wayne State coach Paul Winters doesn't like to look back. He barely likes to look ahead, saying after Saturday's game he's not sure if most of his players know who they play next week.

But the comparisons are too obvious not to talk about.

With a dominating 42-14 victory over Saginaw Valley State at Tom Adams Field on Saturday, Wayne State improved to 7-1 for the first time since 2011.

That was the year, of course, the Warriors made a stunning run to the Division II national-title game.

"(That) was kind of a magic year," Winters said of 2011. "This football team has more depth, has the ability to score and the ability to shut you down on defense. This is my opinion -- and I don't know what the final result's gonna be -- but in my opinion, this is a better football team than any football team we've had."

On a cold, blustery day in Midtown, where it was super-tough to throw the ball, Wayne State turned to its bread and better, the ground game, which came in averaging more than 300 yards a game -- and added 285 more, including 159 yards and three touchdowns from junior running back Romello Brown.

Wayne State, ranked No. 22 in the nation, had five rushing touchdowns in all and one passing touchdown, as the offense dominated time of possession, 43 minutes to 17 for Saginaw Valley State (4-3).

That was thanks, in part, to three SVSU turnovers.

"It's fun, actually," Brown said with a smile, when asked if he felt like he was on the field the entire game. "It's fun because you know these guys are gonna block for us, make sure that we get a chance to get our speed going and run hard.

"It's not just the running backs, it's all of us."

Brown has had a magical season, averaging about 145 rushing yards per game.

He's also rushed for 13 touchdowns on the season, including two 4-yarders and a 7-yarder Saturday.

"This season's not over with, so I really can't sit back and reflect," said Brown, his left arm wrapped after taking some bruising hits. "I try not to do that, because once you do that, that's when your mind goes to ease, you start going soft.”

Wayne State trailed 7-6 early -- thanks to the first of three missed PATs by its kicker, a walk-on after the starter went down with injury before the season -- but took a 22-14 halftime lead thanks to a recovered muffed punt and an interception on consecutive Saginaw Valley possessions. The Warriors also blocked a field goal and recovered a kickoff in the second half, as the game got out of hand.

Next up is Ferris State, on the road next week. Ferris State (6-2), a 42-10 winner over Lake Erie on Saturday, is ranked No. 25 in the country. Another win, and the comparisons to 2011 will only continue to grow.

"They're just very similar in how the team is molded," said Josh Renel, a running back on the 2011 team, and now a Wayne State radio analyst. "It's been pretty cool."

There was a scary moment at the end of the first half, when freshman safety Kyle Toth went down after making a tackle. He suffered a broken right leg, and was taken to the hospital, for surgery Sunday.

He was down for several minutes as the crowd was stone-cold silent. When he was placed on the stretcher, the entire team rushed to his side, and before he entered the ambulance, he waved to the crowd, to a hearty applause from thousands.


Twitter @tonypaul1984