Battle of the backfields: Maverick football takes on No. 1 Sioux Falls Cougars

The Mavericks traveled to Sioux Falls, S.D. and won convincingly against Augustana 35-14 last Saturday. This week, they will head back to Sioux Falls where the NSIC No. 1 ranked Cougars await them. 

Winning has been an expectation for the Mavericks all season long, and junior running back Shen Butler-Lawson has been a massive part of their recent success. He has been a touchdown machine as of late, getting into the end zone on nearly a fourth of his carries in the past two games. Butler-Lawson said he and the Mavericks have been waiting all year for a dominant win like they had on Saturday. 

“To go in there, locked in, and do what we were supposed to do, and really just dominate someone, especially a ranked team, it felt good,” said Butler-Lawson.

With a win over Augustana, the Mavericks put themselves in a much better position to win the Super Four Region. However, the Cougars have not made losing a habit this season, and it will not be easy. They currently sit at 7-1, with their only loss coming last week at Winona State, 20-17. 

The two teams have played each other only eight times in their history, with Minnesota State holding a 6-2 matchup advantage. Although last year, the Cougars picked up their second win against the Mavericks, 45-35. It will be another must win game for the Mavericks, as with a loss, they would undoubtedly be jumped by the Cougars in the rankings with a loss. 

Meanwhile, the Cougars’ offense also features a star running back in senior Thuro Reisdorfer. Reisdorfer was a redshirt walk-on in 2018, got a chance to be the team’s starter in the first week of 2019, and has now posted three consecutive one thousand yard seasons. He is up to 1,000 yards exactly through eight games, while also leading the team with 14 total touchdowns. 

Unfortunately for the Cougars, he may finish the season with those numbers, as the senior went down with an injury early last week. If Reisdorfer were to miss time this week, it would be junior Landon Freeman handling a majority of the carries. Freeman has made the most of his opportunities while playing second fiddle to Reisdorfer, averaging 71 yards per game on 5.9 yards per carry.  

On the defensive end, redshirt sophomore defensive end Zach Durfee has been a game-wrecker himself. Leading the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, the sophomore has been a pleasant surprise for the Cougars after playing in just one game a season ago. As a team, they have also been great against the run this season, holding opponents to a mere 2.9 yards per carry compared to the Cougars’ own 5.4.

Regardless of who takes the field at running back for the Cougars, the key to the game for the Mavericks will still be shutting down the opponent’s run game. With Butler-Lawson and sophomore quarterback Hayden Ekern, the Mavericks will be bringing an explosive rushing attack of their own in hopes to outrush the Cougars.

The Cougars will host the Mavericks at Bob Young Field Saturday in what should be a highly competitive matchup between two teams fighting for a playoff spot. The Mavericks will be playing with something to prove this weekend, and hope to win their third straight before returning home for the final two weeks of regular season play.

“We are going to go in there with the same mindset we always have,” said Butler-Lawson. “Just to dominate, read our keys, play assignment football, and come out with the win.”

Header Photo:  The Minnesota State Mavericks who are currently tied for second with a season record of  6-2 will play at Bob Young Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@mnsu.edu

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