The Minnesota State Mavericks hit the road to play the St. Paul-Concordia Golden Bears, winning an uneven matchup 47-10. No. 5 MNSU moves to a perfect 5-0 heading into the homecoming weekend.
“I liked what we did up front, blocking-wise had a lot of big holes to run through,” said head coach Todd Hoffner. “We didn’t have to break a ton of tackles, that means the blocking was pretty solid and that involves the receivers, tight ends and the quarterback having to carry out the fakes.”
That dominant running attack had 482 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. Sophomore running back Nate Gunn had another big day, going for 173 yards and two scores in his fifth 100-plus yard performance. He has amassed 792 yards on the season and eight touchdowns on the year. Red-shirted freshman Justin Taormina also had an outstanding running performance, going for 103 yards and two scores, while another red-shirted freshman in J.D. Ekowa found the end zone twice as well.
“Nate [Gunn] is a very physical player with great speed; he’s a nice dynamic player for a defense to have to try and manage, with the physicality, but also the shiftiness he possesses,” said Hoffner on his star running back. “He’ll give all the credit to his offensive line and those guys have been playing pretty exceptional. All the guys up front, we’ve rotated seven or eight guys in and they have all played really well.”
However, it was another quiet day from sophomore quarterback Ryan Schlichte, who finished with 99 passing yards and six completions. While coach Hoffner is a believer in the running game, he did reference a “time when someone will shut down the running game, and we will have to play on the perimeter like we did against Duluth”, which means this young quarterback still has some growing to do, to help get his team to the next level.
On the defensive side, the front seven of the Mavs stole the show as they racked up five tackles for loss and three sacks, along with five quarterback hurries. The team was led in tackles by sophomore Alex Goettl, who had six tackles and a sack. Another defensive standout was senior strong safety Corey Brent, who recorded an interception and 31-yard run back, while second on the team in tackles with five.
“What we’ve been doing defensively is keeping things in front of us. We’ve given up very few big plays, and tackled exceptionally well,” said Hoffner of his defense. “If you have a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy on defense, you’re going to have to give out short stuff and rally and make tackles, and we tackle really well.”
The Mavericks play Augustana this Saturday for homecoming , in an attempt to move to 6-0 on the season. But the matchup will be a tough one, according to Hoffner.
“Augustana will pose some problems with a big offensive line,” said Hoffner. “With so many friends and family coming this homecoming weekend and people coming to watch the Mavericks, this will be a challenge for us mentally to take the field with the right mindset and have a workmanship attitude to go 1-0.”
Augustana is entering the game against the Mavericks 2-3 overall and in the NSIC. They are coming off back-to-back losses to St. Cloud State and Wayne State.