Mavericks drop heart-breaker to Warriors

The heartbreak set in for the Minnesota State Mavericks after losing to Winona State by a last-second field goal to seal the game.

After a grueling loss to conference rival Winona State 34-31 at the hands (or foot) of a last second field goal attempt, Head Coach of the Mavericks Todd Hoffner made the message clear to his players after the game, to keep their heads held high and that the season isn’t over yet.

“We met on the field and we told them to keep their heads up and keep battling,” Hoffner said. “We need to bounce back and go 1-0 at homecoming. I think it’s really important that we go out and play football together. As a team, I think we can be stronger if we’re playing together.”

The Mavericks were able to come back from a 17-point deficit in the first half by scoring on three-consecutive drives to end the second quarter. The Mavericks were resilient all the way to the end of the game, but it just wasn’t enough to take a win out from the Winona State Warriors.

Junior quarterback Nick Pieruccini lead the Mavericks again, this time he did it primarily with his arm. Pieruccini threw for 228 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions against the Warriors, completing 22 of 36 passes. The Mavericks run game was also only able to manage 91 yards on the ground, which was a season low. As an offense, the Mavericks were only able to average 2.7 yards per rush, making it difficult to move the ball at times

The defense also seemed to have their troubles, as it came down to trying to defend the passing game of the Warriors. Senior quarterback Jack Nelson threw for 355 yards and four touchdowns, hitting four different receivers for touchdowns. The Mavericks defense struggled defending the pass throughout the game and even though the Mavericks have dropped to 3-2 on the season, there’s no time to dwell on the past. It is time to move forward, build and learn from the successes and failures of the season.

“We got to keep believing, keep the faith and trust one another in order for us to continue to succeed,” Hoffner said. “We did some things really well- our ability to battle back by being down 17 points was very impressive. In the end they made one more play then we did, but I think we had a lot of opportunities. Even though it came down to the last play, you don’t ever want it to come down to that.”

With two losses now, the Mavericks can’t afford to lose many more games this season if they hope to make it to the Division-II playoff bracket. Even with legitimate worries of missing the playoffs this season, Hoffner said his focus is keeping the team’s focus on the next game and one day at a time.

“The only thing we’re worried about right now is winning our next football game. That’s all we’re worried about- we’re not thinking about down the road or the distant future, we’re just trying to focus on today and trying to get better,” Hoffner said.

Like Hoffner said, it’s time to bounce back and this is the perfect upcoming game to do just that. It’s homecoming week for Minnesota State, and they are set to play the 2-3 Concordia – St. Paul Golden Bears at 2 p.m. at Blakeslee Stadium. Let’s see if the Mavericks can bounce back from a tough loss and take their home-game winning streak to two games.

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