The Minnesota State Mavericks bounced back over the weekend with a 41-30 win over the Wayne State Wildcats. With the win, the Mavericks improve to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South. The Wildcats’ loss puts them at 3-7 overall, and 2-4 in the NSIC South.
The game on Saturday was an offensive show. There was a combined 972 total yards of offense. The Mavericks outgained the Wildcats with 513 yards to Wayne State’s 459. Most of the Mavs’ yards were on the ground as they ran for 264 yards. Senior running back Virgil Hammond led the way with 81 yards on twelve attempts. Senior quarterback Nicholas Pieruccini also had a big game on the ground with 60 yards and two touchdowns on eleven attempts.
Pieruccini led the Mavs in passing yards as well with 228 yards and three touchdowns on 21 completions. Seven of those completions went to senior wide receiver Brent Esser, as he gained 73 receiving yards for the game. Junior receiver Erik Fuller caught five passes for 43 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman wide-out Justin Arnold had a big impact through the air with four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
The game started off with an impressive kickoff return from junior Corey Brent, as he brought it back to Wayne State’s eight-yard line. Two plays later, Pieruccini scored on a six-yard run giving the Mavericks the early 7-0 lead. The Wildcats answered right away as they capped off a thirteen-play drive with a nineteen-yard field goal.
The next drive didn’t go as planned for the Mavericks, as Pieruccini threw an interception, giving the Wildcats the ball back on the 43-yard line. Seven plays later the Wildcats scored on an eight-yard touchdown pass from junior Zach Osborn to sophomore Keaton Slaughter, giving Wayne State a 10-7 lead in the first quarter. The Wildcats scored again following a three-and-out from the Mavericks. Osborn threw his second touchdown pass, this time to junior Nate Rogers, making the score 17-7 late in the first quarter.
The Mavericks capitalized on their next drive, however. Pieruccini found Fuller for an eleven-yard touchdown pass, trimming the deficit down 17-14 in the second quarter. The next score came from MSU as they tied the game up at 17-17 with a 21-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the half. That was what the score ended up being heading into halftime.
In the first play of the drive in the second half, the Wildcats fumbled the football giving the Mavericks possession on Wayne State’s 23-yard line. The Mavericks achieved a field goal off the turnover and they took the lead back. On the next drive, Wayne State drove all the way to the Mavericks’ twelve-yard line, but came up empty as they failed to convert on fourth down.
After the turnover on downs, the game was back and forth with each team trading touchdowns. The Mavericks marched down the field and scored on a three-yard touchdown by Pieruccini. The Wildcats responded with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Osborn to senior Nick Roth, making the score 27-24. The Mavericks then scored off of the longest drive of the game. After 90 yards on fifteen plays, Pieruccini found Fuller for the second time in the game from four yards out. Wayne State responded again on the following drive. Junior Rashad Trimble scored on a fourteen-yard touchdown run, making the score 34-30 with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter. Pieruccini threw his third touchdown of the game on the next drive, connecting with Arnold from nineteen yards out, expanding the lead to eleven.
The Wildcats took the ball down to the Maverick’s 28-yard line, but failed to convert on fourth down for the second time in the game with three minutes left. The Mavericks kept possession of the ball for the rest of the game and sealed the victory 41-30.
Up next on the docket, Minnesota State will host Upper Iowa in their final game of the regular season on Saturday, November 12. Kickoff is set for noon at Blakeslee Stadium.