The Minnesota State football team returned to its winning ways Saturday afternoon as it defeated the Wayne State Wildcats 41-30 on the road.
With the win, the Mavericks improve to 7-3 on the season, including a 4-2 NSIC South Division record. With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 3-7, including a 2-4 record in south division action
As a team, the Mavericks tallied 513 yards of total offense, including 264 rushing yards. The Wildcats managed 459 yards of offense, with 386 coming through the air.
Senior quarterback Nick Pieruccini was involved in all five of MSU’s touchdowns. He finished the day completing 21 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. He also tallied 60 rushing yards and two touchdown carries, while senior Virgil Hammond notched a team-leading 81 rushing yards.
Junior Erik Fuller caught two touchdown passes for the third time this season. Freshman Justin Arnold also caught a touchdown pass, while senior Brent Esser led the Mavericks with seven catches for 70 yards.
Freshman Anders Gelecinskyj connected on both of his field goal attempts from 21 and 32 yards out as well.
Five Mavericks recorded five tackles in MSU’s win over Wayne State, including sophomore Zach Dodge, who also recorded two sacks.
The Mavericks reached the end zone on their opening drive of the first quarter to go up 7-0. Junior Corey Brent returned the opening kickoff 91 yards to the WSC eight yard line, before senior Nick Pieruccini ran into the end zone from six yards out two plays later.
Wayne State would then run off 17 straight points to go up 17-7 before the end of the first quarter. WSC’s first score of the game came courtesy of Ethan Knudson who connected on a 19-yard field goal with 8:30 to go in the first quarter.
WSC would then take over on the MSU 43 after WSC’s Shaqualle Paddy intercepted a pass by Pieruccini. Seven plays and 43 yards later, the Wildcats took the lead at 10-7 after Zach Osborn connected on an eight-yard touchdown pass with Keaton Slaughter.
After forcing an MSU three and out on the following drive, the Wildcats managed to block MSU’s punt and would take over on the Maverick nine yard line. Three plays later, Wayne State increased its lead to 17-7 after Osborn connected with Nate Rogers on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Undeterred, the Mavericks responded with 10 points of their on their first two drives of the second quarter to knot up the score at 17-17. Pieruccini connected with junior Erik Fuller on an 11-yard touchdown pass, before freshman Anders Gelecinskyj knotted up the score at 17-17 with a 21-yard field goal.
The start of the third quarter saw the Mavericks take advantage of WSC fumble. Brent forced a fumble that was later recovered by senior Marcus Gooden on the WSC 23 yard line. The Mavericks managed to get to the WSC 15, but a stubborn WSC defense forced the Mavericks to send in Gelecinskyj who connected on a 32-yard field goal to put the Mavericks up 20-17 with 13:12 to go in the third quarter.
The Mavericks would then go up 27-17 after a three-yard touchdown run by Pieruccini, but the Wildcats answered right back on the following drive as Osborn connected with Roth on a 52-yard touchdown pass to get the Wildcats back within three of the Mavericks at 27-24. Both teams would exchange touchdowns again early in the fourth quarter as Fuller caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Pieruccini, before WSC’s Rashad Trimble raced into the end zone from 14 yards out.
The Mavericks finally put the game out of reach with 6:14 to go as Pieruccini connected with Arnold on a 19-yard touchdown pass to bring the final score to 41-30 in favor of the Mavericks.
The Mavericks wrap up their regular season schedule on Saturday, Nov. 12 as they host the Upper Iowa Peacocks at Blakeslee Stadium. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on The Fan Mankato AM 1230.