Gunn and Zylstra push #8 Mavericks past #20 Bulldogs

Photo courtesy of MSU Athletics.
A pair of career nights from sophomore Nate Gunn and sophomore Shane Zylstra proved to be the difference Saturdayevening as #8 Minnesota State bested #20 Minnesota Duluth 38-23.

With the win, MSU improves to 3-0 on the season, while UMD falls to 1-2. MSU has now won its last four games against Minnesota Duluth dating back to the 2013 season.

The duo of Gunn and Zylstra combined for 433 yards and four touchdowns against the Bulldogs. Zylstra finished his night with eight catches for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Zylstra’s 204 receiving yards were the third-most in a game in program history. Gunn added 229 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. Gunn’s 229 rushing yards were the second-most in a game in program history.

Sophomore Ryan Schlichte finished his night with 156 passing yards and three touchdown passes, while freshman JD Ekowa tallied 97 passing yards and a touchdown. In total, the Maverick offense notched 497 yards of total offense, including 244 on the ground and 253 in the air.

Junior Michael Palme led the Maverick defense with 13 tackles. Seniors Joel Ngoyi and Evan Perrizo each came away with a sack, while senior Jerry Nash III recovered a fumble.

The Bulldogs struck first on their second drive of the game. After intercepting an MSU pass, UMD marched 65 yards in nine plays, including a 15-yard touchdown run by Anthony Wood. The Bulldogs converted on the two point conversion to go up 8-0 with under seven to go in the first quarter.

Both teams kept each other in check through the remainder of the first quarter but the second quarter belong to the Mavericks as they tallied 17 unanswered points to take a 17-8 lead into halftime.

MSU reached pay dirt after sophomore Ryan Schlichte connected with a six yard touchdown pass sophomore Tyler Schmidt with just over 10 minutes to go in the second quarter. MSU then took a 14-8 lead on their following drive as freshman JD Ekowa hooked up with Zylstra on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 6:52 to go in the half.

In the closing minutes of the first half, senior Jerry Nash III recovered a muffed punt to give the Mavericks a first and 10 on the UMD 30. Junior Casey Bednarski would later connect on a 42-yard field goal to put the Mavericks up 17-8 as both teams went into the locker room.

Zylstra caught four passes in the first half for 117 yards, marking the first time in his career he has recorded more than 100 receiving yards in a game. Gunn added 70 yards on the ground in the first half, while Palme added a team-leading seven tackles.

The third quarter saw both teams reach the endzone on their opening drive of the second half. MSU’s scoring drive went 72 yards in five plays, including a 24-yard touchdown pass from Schlichte to Zylstra to put MSU up 24-8. The Bulldogs answered right less than three minutes later as Everhart completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ricci to get UMD within nine of the Mavericks at 24-15 with 10:02 to go in the third quarter.

The Mavericks increased their lead to 31-15 after Zylstra caught his third touchdown pass of the game, this time from 11 yards out, with 6:42 to go in the third quarter. UMD managed to get back within a score at 31-23 with 9:09 to go in the game, but a 47-yard touchdown run from Gunn with 2:45 remaining ended all hopes for UMD as the Mavericks locked down the 38-23 win.

The Mavericks wrap up the north portion of their NSIC schedule on Saturday, Sept. 23, as they host the Northern State Wolves at Blakeslee Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

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