The second quarter proved decisive Saturday afternoon in St. Cloud as the #21 Minnesota State football team scored 28 points, en route to a 45-12 road victory over St. Cloud State.
With the win, the Mavericks improve to 2-1 on the season while the Huskies falls to 1-2. Minnesota State, which defended the “Traveling Training Kit”, has now won two straight games against SCSU, and three of their last four encounters.
Senior Nick Pieruccini made the biggest impact on the offensive side of the ball for the Mavericks as he led them with 282 passing yards and 109 rushing yards. He also threw four touchdown passes and ran one in.
Junior Ty Dennis led the MSU receiving corps with 106 receiving yards and a touchdown catch, while senior Brent Esser caught four passes for 32 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Shane Zylstra recorded 52 receiving yards, while junior Erik Fuller caught a touchdown pass as well. Dennis has now tallied at least 100 receiving yards in four games during his career at MSU.
The Maverick defense finished the game allowing just 34 rushing yards and 12 points. MSU also posted three interceptions courtesy of seniors Jared Gillespie, Troy Garland and Rufus Wolokolie. Gillespie was able to return his interception 71 yards for a touchdown.
Senior Alex Vesper posted a team-leading nine tackles, including one for a loss, while senior Ruben Ibarra and junior Larry Moore each tallied seven tackles. Ibarra, and seniors Freeman Coleman and Joseph Horvath, each recorded a sack as well.
St. Cloud State was led on offense by Nate Meyer, who threw for 295 yards and a touchdown, compared to two interceptions. Jason Parsons caught a total of seven passes for 119 yards and a touchdown as well.
The Huskies managed to get on the board first on their opening drive of the quarter. After a 69-yard pass from Meyer to Parsons that brought SCSU down to the MSU 10, the Maverick defense held firm to force a field goal. The Huskies then faked the field goal attempt as Parsons was able to connect with Graham Miller with an eight-yard touchdown pass. The point after missed the mark as SCSU led 6-0 with 11:23 to go in the first.
Immediately after the SCSU touchdown, the Mavericks responded with a 15-play, 73-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard touchdown pass from Pieruccini to Fuller to put the Mavericks up 7-6.
The second quarter then saw the Mavericks bust the game wide open as they tallied four touchdowns to go up 35-6 at the half. The offensive onslaught began with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Pieruccini to Esser to go up 14-6, before Pieruccini hooked up with Dennis on a 48-yard touchdown pass to put MSU up 21-6 with 8:45 to go in the second quarter. MSU’s final two touchdowns of the quarter came via a five-yard touchdown pass from Pieruccini to Esser, and a one-yard touchdown run from Pieruccini in the closing seconds of the half.
— Brandon Lewis (@Brandon_L_Lewis) September 17, 2016
SCSU managed to get a touchdown on its opening drive of the third quarter to bring the score to 35-12, but MSU responded with a 21-yard field goal from Anders Gelecinskyj on the following drive to put the Mavericks up 38-12 with 5:30 to go in the third. The final score of the game came with 9:26 to go in the fourth as Gillespie returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown to bring the final score to 45-12.
The Mavericks return to Blakeslee Stadium on Saturday as they host the MSU Moorhead Dragons. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on The Fan Mankato AM 1230 and FM 103.1.