Ekern earns NSIC Player of the Week

Minnesota State quarterback Hayden Ekern’s four touchdowns Saturday earned him the title of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Offensive Player of the Week as he helped the Mavericks defeat Winona State in a 49-42 shootout. 

“He had an exceptional game,” said head coach Todd Hoffner. “Boy, he was throwing some bull’s eye on the dartboard. I thought he had a really good feel for what they were doing and he was out there executing play after play.” 

In the game, Ekern completed 21-of-33 passes for 328 yards. This was the second time in his career passing for over 300 yards. He had two touchdowns through the air while also running in two more. 

“Everyone was out there helping me out,” Ekern said. “It feels good to get the award but it isn’t an individual award. The receivers and offensive line were out there making great plays and Shen (Butler-Lawson) was running the ball well. They opened things up for me.” 

“It is always fun to get to run it into the endzone for once too.” 

In the first half, Ekern started his scoring with a three-yard rushing touchdown and then connected with Grant Guyett for a 20-yard touchdown pass. To end the half, he finished a 71-yard drive with another rushing touchdown; this time from the one-yard line.

In the second half, his lone touchdown was to Tony Anger with a pass on the goal line. 

The game brings Ekern’s season efforts to 2,161 yards and 20 touchdowns.

“Hayden is the field general out there,” Hoffner said. “He has gained respect and provides leadership while being asked to make big plays for us to be successful every week. But he wasn’t alone and they all kept fighting and battling for the win.” 

The Mavericks now face the University of Minnesota Duluth at home in their final regular-season game Saturday. The 8-2 Bulldogs statistically hold the best offense and defense in the NSIC and are ranked 24th in the nation. 

Their offense tallies 38 points while their defense holds teams to 18 points per game. Bulldog quarterback Kyle Walljasper leads the team on the ground with 999 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s also thrown for 1,368 and 20 touchdowns. 

“They are not getting the respect they deserve,” Hoffner said. “They should be in the top-ten regional rankings. They are the number one offense and defense and their special teams are highly ranked. They are a great football team and it is going to be a tough outing.”

“We are going to need to play exceptionally well to win this football game.” 

Header Photo: The Minnesota State football team has been ranked seventh in the most recent edition of the NCAA Super Region 4 rankings.They dropped one spot from last weekend, despite beating Winona State 49-42. (Courtesy Maverick Athletics • Jackson Forderer/SPX)

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