Gunn and Zylstra guide #5 Mavericks past Vikings 42-21 on homecoming

The #5 Minnesota State football team kept things rolling Saturday afternoon at Blakeslee Stadium as the Mavericks defeated Augustana 42-21 during MSU’s annual Homecoming.

With the win, the Mavericks improve to 6-0 on the season, including a 2-0 record in NSIC South Division action. With the loss, the Vikings fall to 2-4, including a 0-2 record in division play. MSU has now won its last seven homecoming contests and its last seven meeting against AU.

The Maverick offense tallied 388 yards of total offense Saturday afternoon, including 218 yards on the ground. In comparison, the Vikings tallied 275 yards of offense, including 232 in the air.

On offense, both sophomore wide receiver Shane Zylstra and sophomore running back Nate Gunn provided the spark for the Mavericks as they combined for 304 yards and five touchdowns. Zysltra caught 10 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns, marking the second time this season he has surpassed the 100 receiving yard plateau. Gunn added 157 yards and two touchdown carries as well. Gunn has rushed for more than 100 yards in all six games this season, and is the first Maverick to do so since TJ Schraufnagel did so to open the 1999 season.

On defense, sophomore Alex Goettl paced the Mavericks with seven tackles. Senior Evan Perrizo added 1.5 sacks, while Michael Palme tallied 1.5 tackles for a loss. The MSU defense also came away with two interceptions, courtesy of senior Corey Brent and sophomore Jack Curtis, and a fumble recovery from senior Larry Moore.

The Mavericks got on the scoreboard with 6:29 left in the first as junior Casey Bednarski connected on a 38-yard field goal to give MSU a 3-0 lead. One drive late, the Mavericks increased their least to 10-0 as freshman JD Ekowa connected with Zylstra on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 1:52 left in the 2nd quarter.

Things continued to roll for MSU on its following drive as MSU went 68 yards in nine plays to pay dirt, which included a 15-yard touchdown run from Gunn to put the Mavericks up 18-0. Augustana managed to cut into the Mavericks’ lead after a 43-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Saddler to Trevor DeSchepper, but a costly turnover on its next drive gave the Mavericks the ball inside the redzone. Three plays later Zylstra caught his second touchdown pass of the game, this time from 12 yards out, to put MSU up 25-7 with 7:42 to go in the quarter.

Augustana managed to get back within 11 of the Mavericks in the closing seconds of the first half as Saddler connected on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Chet Peerenboom to bring the score to 25-14 in favor of the Mavericks heading into halftime.

MSU’s opening drive of the third quarter proved to be the only scoring drive of the quarter. MSU drove 47 yards down field and eventually called on Bednarski who connected on a 45-yard field goal to put the Mavericks up 28-14.

As the fourth quarter opened, the Mavericks locked down the win as MSU went 52 yards in four plays, including a 26-yard touchdown run from Gunn, to go up 35-14 with 14:24 remaining. Augie and Minnesota State each reached the endzone one more time before the clock ran out as the Mavericks defeated the Vikings 42-21.

Minnesota State begins a two-game road trip on Saturday, Oct. 14, as they take on the Upper Iowa Peacocks. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.

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