Mavericks undefeated, win 20th NSIC title
Team clinches a first-round bye headed into the playoffs
The Mavericks battled against not only the weather this past Saturday, but also the Upper Iowa Peacocks at home at the Blake, stomping over the team, 47-7, for their twentieth NSIC conference title in school history.
Out of the gate, the Peacocks looked unmatched compared to the #1-ranked team in the country, as the Mavs jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Sophomore tailback Justin Taormina got the Mavericks on the board early in the game, scoring on a 42-yard rush to the house to put the Mavericks on the board early, 7-0.
The next offensive drive for the Mavs, they scored another touchdown, courtesy of a six-yard run by sophomore quarterback JD Ekowa to put the Mavs up, 14-0.
On the following kickoff, the Peacocks return unit attempted to return the ball on the kickoff, and muffed the ball, which was then recovered by the Mavericks.
The next offensive drive, junior wide out Justin Arnold caught an 18-yard pass from junior quarterback Ryan Schlichte for the touchdown to put the Mavs up 21-0 with 7:34 left in the first quarter.
There looked to be some signs of life for the Peacocks on the following offensive drive.
Upper Iowa went on a 7 play, 70-yard drive on their next offensive possession, which then ended in a touchdown score by Peacocks tailback Ryan Parmely to put a dent in the Mavericks lead in the first quarter at 21-7.
As the game went into the 2nd quarter of the game, the Mavericks would score another touchdown early in the quarter, courtesy of a 15-yard touchdown run by junior tailback Nate Gunn to put the Mavs up 27-7, after the PAT attempt would then be blocked by the Peacocks on the following play.
Late in the quarter, Schlichte would add another touchdown pass to the stat sheet, throwing it up to junior wide out Shane Zylstra for the 42-yard bomb for the touchdown score to put the Mavs up 34-7, going into the half.
The rest of game was defensively dominated by the Mavericks, as the team had three sacks and three interceptions on the day, one of them almost taken to the house early in the game by sophomore defensive lineman Chance Bowen. The 6’4”, 260-pound lineman was a few yards from the end zone after intercepting the opposing quarterback on the play, before being tackled yards short of the end zone.
The Mavericks ended up defeating the Peacocks, 47-7, to win their second straight NSIC title.
After the game, head coach Todd Hoffner had this to say about leading his army of Mavericks rolling into the playoff season, “Our goal is to not end our season at the Blake again this season. We haven’t been able to do that since 2014. This year, our goal is to change that.”
The team hopes that the odds indeed are in their favor this time around, as they go into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed going into the NCAA Tournament.
Being the No. 1 seed, the team now gets a week off to prepare for their next opponent, which will be the winner of the match between CSU-Pueblo and the Colorado School of Mines.
The winner of that game will go on to face-off with the Mavs at Blakeslee Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 24 at noon. Hopefully this time around, the Mavericks can get the job done.
Feature photo by Nidia Sepulveda | MSU Reporter.