No. 3 Maverick football cruise past Mustangs, 54-7

The No. 3 Minnesota State University football team continued their impressive season with a decisive road victory over the Mustangs from Southwest State University last Thursday night in a 54-7 route. After racking up nearly 550 yards of offense while only giving up 240 on defense, this was a dominant effort in all three facets of the game.

On the first possession of the game, the Mavericks managed to start things off with a field goal from junior Casey Bednarski to give them the early 3-0 lead. Shortly after, sophomore quarterback Ryan Schlichte found receiver Shane Zylstra, who continues to rack up big numbers this year, for a 33-yard touchdown to put the Mavs up 10-0 early in the game.

The first drive of the second quarter for MNSU took a lot of time off the clock. It went for 71 yards on 16 plays, eating 7:41 of time, capped off with a field goal to give the Mavs a 13-0 lead.

After a huge fourth down stop in the closing minutes of the half, the Mavericks extended their lead as Bednarski booted a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Mavericks a 16-0 lead heading into the locker room.

SMSU came out of halftime looking to prove something as they managed to make it down to the MNSU one-yard line. After failing to get in the end zone on four attempts, the Mavericks took over at their own one-yard line. A couple plays later, freshman running back Justin Taormina broke free of the defense and scored an 89-yard touchdown to put MNSU up 23-0.

The next drive featured a lot of Shane Zylstra. After catching a 39-yard pass, the possession was capped off with a two-yard touchdown reception from the wide receiver to extend the lead to 30-0 with just over seven minutes to go in the third.

Special teams came up huge for the Mavericks on Thursday night, as they forced and blocked a SMSU punt inside their own ten-yard line. It only took a couple plays to find the end zone as Tyler Schmidt caught a three-yard touchdown pass to increase the big lead to 37-0.

The Mavericks blocked their second punt of the game, this time thanks to Austin Behm to give the Mavs the ball on the one-yard line. Freshman Jace Franklin joined the scoring party, plunging in from one yard out, making the count 44-0.

With the game well in hand, the Mavericks added another field goal courtesy of backup kicker Tucker Hague and another touchdown by redshirted freshman quarterback JD Ekowa.

Bednarski took home NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week honors as he connected on field goals from 19 yards, 27 yards and 51 yards. This marks the second time this season the junior has won the award.

The Mavericks return home the next two weeks. The first game features a top-three matchup against Winona State. Winona is ranked No. 1 in the nation while the Mavericks are No. 3. The second game is against a struggling Wayne State team before hitting the road for the season finale against No. 6 ranked Sioux Falls.

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