The Mavericks defense limited the ThunderWolves offense to 7 points
The Minnesota State Mavericks football team prevailed over the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, winning 35-7.
The Mavericks defense set the tone for the game, shutting down the ThunderWolves on their first drive. After the CSU-Pueblo punt, the Mavericks offense kicked things off with a 34-yard touchdown run from senior Ryan Schlichte.
The Mavericks got out to a 14-0 lead after senior Nate Gunn picked up a nine-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
With almost three minutes remaining in the second quarter, Gunn picked up his second touchdown of the day on a four-yard run.
The ThunderWolves responded quickly, taking only two plays to get their first and only touchdown of the game. The Mavericks went into the half with a 21-7 lead.
Just a minute into the second half, junior JD Ekowa found senior Shane Zylstra for a 74-yard touchdown. Zylstra caught the ball deep over the middle and outrun the defenders for a 28-7 lead.
Ekowa would score the final touchdown of the game in the third quarter on an eight-yard run.
The defense was stout once again, creating havoc for CSU-Pueblo’s quarterback Jordan Kitna. He would finish with just 71 yards and two interceptions.
Junior Cade Johnson and senior Zach Robertson were responsible for the two interceptions.
Where the ThunderWolves had some success was on the ground. They had 133 rushing yards and one touchdown. Lindsay Marcus was the main contributor of that, gaining 92 yards.
Junior Thomas Brayden led the way with two and a half sacks, causing a loss of 15 yards. Seniors Garret Jansen and Jordan Bergren combined for one and a half sacks on the day.
Along with the interception, Johnson led the team with 10 tackles.
Ekowa led the way passing the ball, collecting 161 yards and the lone passing touchdown. However, he did pickup two interceptions along the way. Schlichte went 5-of-7 with 96 yards.
Zylstra picked up most of the yards in the passing attack, finishing with 153 yards and a touchdown.
The Mavericks did most of their damage on the ground with the frigid temperatures. Gunn led the team with two touchdowns and 74 yards. Following him were the quarterback tandem of Schlichte and Ekowa, finishing with 66 and 56 yards respectively.
MSU will face Texas A&M- Commerce next in the third round of the playoffs Saturday at the Blakeslee Stadium.
Header photo: Minnesota State running back Nate Gunn (23) runs with the ball during the first half of an NCAA Division II playoff against Colorado State Univeristy-Pueblo at the Blakeslee Stadium Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 in Mankato, Minn. (Mansoor Ahmad/MSU Reporter)