The winning streak continues for the Minnesota State University Mankato football team. The Mavericks beat Southwest Minnesota State on Thursday night at Blakeslee Stadium by a score of 35-20.
With the win, the Mavericks’ record improves to 6-2, 3-1 in the South Division. They also continue their undefeated all-time record against SMSU at 15-0.
The Mavericks outgained the Mustangs in total yardage. They racked up 410 yards, including 283 through the air and 127 on the ground. Senior quarterback Ricky Lloyd was the player of the game as he threw for 229 yards and four touchdowns on 19 passes. Freshman quarterback Ryan Schlichte contributed to the Mavericks passing game as he completed four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
A platoon of Maverick receivers had at least one catch in the game. Leading with junior wide out Ty Dennis who had five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Junior tight end Erik Fuller also had five catches for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Senior Brent Esser and freshman Shane Zylstra also grabbed a touchdown pass.
Junior quarterback, Blake Gimbel, led the Mustangs passing game with 245 passing yards and a touchdown on 30 completions. Freshman running back Max Simmons had 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 28 attempts. Another impact player for the Mustang offense was redshirt freshman wide receiver Gabe Galamue, who had nine catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
The Maverick defense played tremendously as they were able to hold an explosive Mustang offense to 20 points and 358 yards. They forced three turnovers and had an astounding six sacks in the game. Sophomore defensive lineman Zach Dodge led the way with 3 sacks of his own. Senior safety Mat Andriano made plays all over the field as he led the team in tackles with 10.
The game started off with the Mavericks having possession and they were able to march all the way down the field and score from one of Lloyd’s touchdown passes to Fuller. The Mustangs responded later in the quarter with a long 15-play drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Gimbel to Galamue.
The Mavericks scored the very next drive on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Schlichte to Dennis. The Mustangs seemed to have been on a roll as they scored the drive after that by way of a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Simmons. After a couple sloppy drives from both teams, the first half finished with the score tied at 14-all.
The third quarter started off with the Mustangs failing to convert on fourth down. The Mavericks couldn’t capitalize on the turnover-of-downs as they had a three-and-out, giving the Mustangs great field position. After another turnover on downs, punt, and turnover, the Mavericks scored by the end of the third quarter on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Lloyd to Zylstra, giving them the lead 21-14.
The next score came from the Mavericks with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Lloyd threw his third touchdown pass, this time to Esser from 23 yards out. Following a fumble from SMSU, the Mavericks capitalized on the great field position and scored after four plays. Lloyd threw his final touchdown pass to Fuller from six yards out, making the score 35-14.
The Mustangs were in desperation mode after that score and they were able to score from a 27-yard touchdown run by Simmons making the score 35-20 after the extra point was blocked. With just under two minutes left in the game, the Mustangs failed an onside kick, giving the Mavericks possession. MNSU then ran out the clock to win the game.
MNSU will face their toughest opponent, the sixth ranked Sioux Falls Cougars. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium.