Winning is a culture, and for Minnesota State University, Mankato that culture is well established. The Mavericks began the season with a bang last Thursday night, defeating the University of Mary easily by a score of 35-7.
The defense provided the early spark the Mavs needed. U-Mary fumbled on the second play from scrimmage, resulting in prime field position for the Mavericks. Six plays and 21 yards later, MNSU cashed in on U-Mary’s turnover to make the score 7-0.
The Mavericks kept on putting the ball in the end zone as they scored on three of the first four possessions, including a 26-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Justin Taormina and an 82-yard drive capped off with a short touchdown pass from freshman J.D. Ekowa to push Minnesota State’s lead to 21-0 early in the second quarter. U-Mary eventually put the ball in the end zone before half, making the score 21-7 heading into the locker room.
The purple and gold put the pedal to the floor after the break however, as they increased the score to 28-7 early in the third quarter. The drive consisted of 12 plays and traveled 80 yards before running back Nate Gunn plunged in for the touchdown for his second score of the game. The Mavericks again scored in the third on a rushing touchdown to make the count 35-7.
Heading into the locker room at half up 14, the Mavericks thought they may have been letting the Marauders hang around and wanted to put an end to that as soon as the second half got underway. They succeeded in doing so. The defense came up huge in the second half, only allowing a handful of first downs and forcing U-Mary into punts from deep in their own territory, resulting in good field position for MNSU’s offense to operate in. They took full advantage, stretching the lead out to 28 points and not looking back.
On campus, there is a certain buzz around this team. Students are excited to get out and support their college team on Saturday afternoons. After moving up ten spots in the Division-II football poll from number 20 to 10, senior biology student Evan Sanders is particularly excited to cheer on this year’s team compared to past seasons.
“It is different this year being a senior,” Sanders said. “In years past, I really did not know many of the players because I was new and an underclassman. Now as a senior, most of my friends that are on the football team are playing meaningful minutes so it makes it more interesting to watch.”
Sanders also commented on how the team being in the top-ten helps as well.
“Being a good team also helps to get students to the game. I remember when we went to the National Championship my freshman year how fun it was to go to the games and now this year I’m hoping to have the same game experience, maybe even better.”
The Mavericks have their home opener this weekend at Blakeslee Stadium on September 9th against Minnesota Crookston. Kickoff is set for 1:00 pm. Minnesota State is 4-0 all-time against the Golden Eagles, with their last win coming in 2015 by a whopping score of 63-3.