No. 6 MNSU defeats Minot State, home opener Saturday

After Minnesota State’s first win of the season against Minot State, it is full sails ahead as the Mavericks prepare for their home opener against Bemidji State.

The Mavericks and Beavers each played their first games of the season on September 1st. In their first game of the season, the Mavericks came out firing on all cylinders.

“We played fast, we played hard, and we played together.” Head Coach Todd Hoffner said. “We had tons of energy- I think the guys were really excited for one another and excited to play football. We looked like a fast team out there and I think we played well.”

Getting the first win of the season was important for a young team like MSU, as they try to find their identity and make a name for themselves early in the season. Speaking on behalf of the win last Thursday, Hoffner was extremely pleased with his team’s performance.

“It was a great opportunity for our guys to go out and play football. It’s been a while since we played. We had an early exit from the playoffs last year, but I think we gelled fairly well.” Hoffner said.

After a long offseason, shaking off the proverbial cobwebs was a concern for the Mavericks coming into the first game of the season. Luckily Hoffner and the rest of the coaching staff had a plan to get rid of the rust early.

“What we did in our warm up the day of the game helped. We put our cleats on in the morning and went on the field and went through some different scenarios.” Hoffner said. “I think that did a lot to help because we did have some cobwebs in the morning.”

The early morning walk-through seemed to give the Mavericks an early boost in the game Thursday night as the Mavericks started out red-hot. The focal point for the Mavericks’ offense was a tenacious run game.

As an offense, the Mavericks totaled 291 yards on the ground. Senior running back Virgil Hammond led the Mavericks’ run game with 88 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. Not far behind him was junior quarterback Nick Pieruccini with 86 yards via the ground as the Chicago, Illinois native ended up in the end zone twice. Pieruccini is a terrific dual-threat at the quarterback position, as he can hurt opposing defenses on the ground and through the air.

Even with the success the Mavericks saw in their first game of the season, Hoffner still thinks there is plenty of room for improvement.

“It’s the largest room in the world.” Hoffner said. “Our guys can really get a lot better at the fundamentals, pad-level, and playing the full play.”

Hoffner went on talking about the team’s motive, saying “We have to give it all we got, all the time and that’s been our slogan and theme for the week- all we got, all the time.”

Even after a solid 35-7 victory over Minot State, the focus will remain continuing the effort to improve on all aspects of the game.

The Mavericks will be preparing this week to play a tough Bemidji State team that totaled 547 yards in their 38-24 win over Upper Iowa last week. Bemidji State was lead by junior quarterback Jordan Hein. Hein led the offense in both rushing and passing. On the ground, Hein accumulated 99 yards and a touchdown on just 11 rushes. Through the air Hein was able to pass for 296 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a total of 395 yards and three touchdowns.

The Mavericks defense will have their hands full in trying to handle the quarterback for Beavers. Limiting his success and providing pressure up front on the defensive line will be crucial if the Mavericks defense hopes to limit the success of the opposing offense.

“We’re facing a very talented, fast, physical kind of team. They’re very similar to us in nature where they have a lot of speed,” Hoffner said. “They had a very impressive outing in their first game, and they dominated their game from the beginning to the end so we’re going to have our hands full at Blakeslee.”

When referring to the play of Hein, Hoffner held him in high regard.

“He’s quite a playmaker.” Hoffner said. “He does a really good job of making plays in space and makes good decisions with the football.”

The sixth-ranked Minnesota State Mavericks will host Bemidji State this Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 6:00 p.m. The Bemidji State Beavers played well in their home opener last week, but the Mavericks will be looking to add a win to their 1-0 record this Saturday at home.

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