The Minnesota State University football team beat up on Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday by a score of 45-10. This latest win marks the sixth-straight homecoming win for the Mavericks, and they performed in front of crowd of 6,123 fans, the sixth-largest attendance in school history.
MSU now holds a 4-2 overall record, and a 1-1 record among the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) South opponents. As for the Golden Bears of Concordia-St. Paul, they’re looking at a 2-4 overall record and an 0-2 division record after the loss.
Offensively, Saturday went smoothly for the Mavs as they racked up 484 total yards. 291 of those yards were through the air, led by junior quarterback Nick Pieruccini, who threw for 197 yards and two scores. Senior Ricky Lloyd and freshman Ryan Schlichte each contributed to the passing game, as they both had a touchdown pass each.
It was a platoon of receivers that made a significant contribution this week. Ten players all had at least one catch, and the receiving corps was led by Junior tight end Erik Fuller who had four catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Shane Zylstra is continuing to develop into a reliable target for the Mavs as he also caught two touchdown passes in the second half.
The Mavericks were hard to stop on the ground as they compiled for 193 total yards, with an average of 6 yards per rush. Senior Virgil Hammond led the way with 115 yards, the third time he’s reached 100 yards rushing in his career at MSU. Senior running back Isaac Rodriguez also had a significant contribution to the Maverick run game as he finished with 41 yards on twelve attempts and a rushing touchdown to go along with it. All three of the MSU quarterbacks that played combined for 37 yards on the ground.
Pieruccini gave the praise to the offensive linemen, stating “Most importantly, we were able to control the line of scrimmage up front and opened up stuff for us in the passing game.”
The Maverick defense played terrifically against the Golden Bears as they gave up 254 total yards, with 128 on the ground and 126 through the air.
“For starters we held them to only 10 points and I was proud how our defensive backs have responded,” stated Senior linebacker Marcus Gooden.
Senior linebacker Ruben Ibarra was making plays all over the field, as he notched a game-high twelve tackles. Another impact player on the defense was sophomore Zach Dodge, as he tallied three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Senior Alec Vesper and sophomores Michael Palme and Jayme LaPlante each got a sack as well.
The Mavericks also got a lot of help from special teams this week as they were able to block a punt and return it back for a touchdown. Freshman place kicker Anders Gelecinskyj also notched a field goal, making it four made field goals on the season.
The next opponent on the Mavericks’ schedule is Augustana University out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Like the Mavericks, they are 4-2 overall with a 1-1 South Division record. Their latest game was a 44-31 win against Wayne State College. MSU last played Augustana in the 2015 homecoming game as the Mavericks edged them out, 35-27.
This season, the Vikings are prolific on offense as they are the top-scoring team in the NSIC averaging 43 points per game. They’re second in the league in passing offense as they throw for an average of 328.7 yards per game. They are also ranked 10th in the conference in rushing yards per game with 149.8.
The Vikings’ offense is led by Senior Quarterback Trey Heid, as he leads the team in both passing with 1,834 yards and 21 touchdowns, also in the rushing category with 328 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings also have a pair of running backs that will have an impact in the run and pass game with junior Jackie Davis, who leads the team in rushing touchdowns with 5, and sophomore Caden Quintanilla.
The receiving corps is led by a couple of Lakeville, Minn. Seniors in wide-outs Matt Heller and Charlie Hayes. Heller seems to be Heid’s top target as the wide out leads the team with 797 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Defensively, they are right in the middle of the conference in total defense, giving up 400.2 yards per game. Passing wise, they give up around 211 yards, and 189.2 rushing yards per game. The team is anchored by sophomore linebacker Kirby Hora, as he leads the team with 62 tackles. Another impact defensive player is Senior defensive lineman Bryson Hamilton who leads the team in sacks with 3.
Augustana will host the Mavericks on their homecoming week, which is cleverly called ‘Vikings Days.’ Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, October 15.