The scoring came at a premium Saturday afternoon at Blakeslee Stadium, but its was #4 Sioux Falls that would come away with the 24-14 win over Minnesota State.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 9-0 on the season, including a 5-0 record in NSIC South Division action. With the loss, the Mavericks fall to 6-3, including a 3-2 south division record.
The USF rushing attack proved to be the difference Saturday as the Cougars tallied 346 rushing yards and two touchdown carries compared to MSU’s 88 rushing yards. USF’s Max Mickey led the USF rushing attack with 165 yards, while Luke Papilion added 104 rushing yards and two touchdown carries as well. In total, USF posted 476 yards of total offense, compared to Minnesota State’s 313.
MSU managed to post 225 passing yards against the USF defense. Senior Nick Pieruccini threw for 151 yards and a touchdown, while senior Ricky Lloyd notched 74 passing yards and one touchdown pass.
Minnesota State senior Taylor Johnson and freshman Shane Zylstra each hauled in a touchdown pass for the Mavericks. Zylstra led the MSU receiving corps with 77 receiving yards, while junior Ty Dennis and senior Brent Esser each caught five passes for 48 yards and 45 yards, respectively.
Junior Brendan Chrystal led the Maverick defense with 13 tackles, with senior Mat Andriano following right behind with 10. Junior Evan Perrizo notched eight tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Junior Larry Moore came away with an interception on USF’s opening drive as well.
After Moore’s interception on USF’s opening drive of the game, the Mavericks marched 86 yards down field to take an early 7-0 lead. Lloyd completed four passes and rushed for 50 yards in MSU’s scoring drive that was topped off with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Zylstra.
USF reached the scoring column on its opening drive of the second quarter. The Cougars managed to reach the MSU nine yard line but a timely sack by Perrizo and senior Marcus Gooden forced the Cougars to send in Brett Garner who connected on a 32-yard field goal with 4:41 remaining in the first half.
After forcing an MSU three and out on its next drive, the Cougars managed to take a 10-7 lead in the final minute of the second quarter. USF’s 10-play, 63-yard drive was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Papilion.
Early in the third quarter the Cougars would take advantage of an MSU turnover to go up 17-7 with 8:14 to go in the quarter. USF’s Jeffrey Harman intercepted a pass from Nick Pieruccini and retuned it to the MSU 26. Four plays later, Papilion connected with Josh Angulo on an eight yard touchdown pass to give the Cougars a 17-7 lead.
Sioux Falls added one more touchdown in the third quarter as Papilion managed to race into the end zone from 25 yards out to put the Cougars up 24-7 with 1:55 left in the quarter.
The Mavericks managed to cut the USF lead to 14 after Pieruccini connected with Johnson on a 22-yard touchdown pass with 8:15 to go in the game, but MSU would get no closer as the Cougars locked down the 24-14 win.
The Mavericks continue their season on the road on Saturday, Nov. 5, as they take on the Wayne State Wildcats. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on The Fan Mankato.