Behind a solid defensive effort, the Minnesota State Football team was able to come away with a 35-20 win over Southwest Minnesota State on Thursday evening at Blakeslee Stadium.
With the win, the Mavericks improve to 6-2 on the season, including a 3-1 NSIC South Division record. With the loss, the Mustangs fall to 4-4, including a 1-3 record in south division play. MSU now owns a 15-0 all-time record against SMSU.
As a team, MSU boasted 410 total yards of offense against the Mustangs. The Mavericks saw the majority of their success come through the air as they tallied 283 passing yards and five touchdown passes. Senior Ricky Lloyd completed 19 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns, while freshman Ryan Schlichte completed four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
As it has been all season, the Maverick quarterbacks connected with several Maverick receivers in their win. A total of six MSU receivers caught at least one pass, including junior Ty Dennis, who led the Mavericks with 74 receiving yards and a touchdown. Junior Erik Fuller caught a pair of touchdowns as well, while senior Brent Esser and freshman Shane Zylstra each caught one of their own.
While the Maverick offense did its thing, the Maverick defense held a potent SMSU offense that averaged 42 points and 492 yards of total offense coming into the game to just 20 points and 358 yards of offense. Senior Mat Andriano led the Maverick defense with 10 tackles, with senior Ruben Ibarra following right behind with eight. Sophomore Zach Dodge notched a game-high three quarterback sacks as well.
The Maverick defense also came up with three turnovers in its win Thursday evening. Andriano, along with sophomore Jayme LaPlante, each came away with a fumble recovery, while sophomore Michael Palme recorded an interception. The Mavericks also stopped the Mustangs on all three of their fourth down attempts.
MSU opened the game with an eight-play, 65-yard scoring drive to go up 7-0. Lloyd completed a total of five passes on MSU’s opening drive, including an eight yard touchdown pass to Fuller.
The Mustangs were able to knot up the score at 7-7 late in the first quarter. After intercepting a pass from Lloyd, the Mustangs went 79 yards in 16 plays, including a three-yard touchdown pass from Blake Gimble to Gabriel Galamue.
MSU managed to regain the lead on its next drive, only to see SMSU knot up the score at 14-14 on its following drive. The Mavericks reached the end zone on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Schlichte to Dennis, before the Mustangs answered right back with a four-yard touchdown run from Max Simmons.
The third quarter saw the Mustangs reach the MSU red zone twice, but the Mavericks were able to prevent SMSU from reaching pay dirt. SMSU’s opening drive of the third quarter was stalled on the MSU 16 after the Mavericks halted SMSU on fourth down. On the Mustangs following drive, they once again reach the red zone but on a third down, freshman Jordan Bergren forced a fumble that was scooped up by Andriano at the MSU 14.
MSU regained the lead for good on their final drive of the third quarter. After taking over on its own 27 with 3:25 to go in the quarter, the Mavericks marched all the way down the field in 10 plays to go up 21-14. MSU’s scoring drive was capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Lloyd to Zylstra.
The Mavericks then put the game away with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. MSU’s first touchdown of the fourth quarter came courtesy of a 23-yard touchdown pass from Lloyd to Esser to put MSU up 28-14. The Mavericks then recovered an SMSU fumble at the Mustang 19 on the following drive. Four plays later, the Mavericks went up 35-14 after Lloyd completed a six-yard touchdown pass to Fuller with 4:41 left in the game.
The Mustangs managed to get a touchdown on their final drive of the game as Simmons raced into the end zone from 27 yards out. The Mavericks then blocked the extra point and then took over after SMSU’s failed onside kick.
The Mavericks return to Blakeslee Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 29 as they host #6 Sioux Falls. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on The Fan Mankato AM 1230 FM 103.1.