The football team advances to 10-0 on the season, marking the first time since 2014
The Minnesota State Mavericks are the No. 1 team in the country and continued their flawless 2017 season with a 48-27 win over the Wayne State Wildcats in what started as a tight game. The win also gave the Mavericks a share of the NSIC Championship, with the opportunity to be the solo champs next week with a win to finish off the season perfect.
“I’m so happy for Maverick nation to be NSIC champions, and proud of our players and coaches. It was really hard to get where we are and is a testament to work ethic and resilience and leadership,” head coach Todd Hoffner said. “Give Wayne State credit– I thought they battled hard, and we got off to a great start and then they had 20 unanswered [points] and we finished with the 21, so it was a great game when you can come out on top.”
The Wildcats came into the game 5-4 after an up-and-down season with two games left, trying to the play the role of spoiler against the Mavs and their run for perfection. After a 17-point first quarter, the Mavericks seemed to have another easy win on their hands, with freshman running back Justin Taormina going for two scores in the first quarter.
But the Wildcats were far from dispelled after one quarter. Quarterback for the Wildcats Mitchell Hansen helped the offense surge back with 20 points in the second and third quarters while Henson tossed for 253 yards and three scores, rallying the team to within a score of the Mavericks at 27-20 heading into the final quarter.
“We put our defense in some tough spots,” said Hoffner on the Wildcats’ comeback attempt. “A big turning point was us not converting on the fourth down, forcing them to punt and then fumbling on the punt return, but resiliency and leadership shined through.”
The Mavericks put a stamp on the game with a 21-7 fourth quarter showing, with Ryan Schlichte passing for two of his three scores in the final chapter of this game while finishing with 160 passing yards and 35 rushing yards. The game was sealed by Taormina’s third score to win another game by double-digits and move to 10-0.
Ty Dennis was another Mavericks offensive player to standout, with 78 yards and a score and led the eight receivers Schlichte found throughout the game. The biggest story, however, was running back Taormina. The young Maverick ran for 211 yards and three scores on 30 carries in another game filling in for the starter Nate Gunn. While Gunn has been out nursing a leg injury, Taormina has stepped up in a big way, answering the call in the backfield again and again over the past three weekends in route to amassing 452 yards and five scores. He has helped this team in a big way after Gunn went down.
The Mavericks defense did a great job forcing the Wildcats offense to play one dimensional football, holding them to 82 rushing yards. The team was able to find a pair of sacks and tackles for loss, while Jack Curtis snagged an interception.
The Mavericks are one win away from a perfect regular season, with only the Sioux Falls Cougars standing in their way on Nov. 11.