Maverick football ends with loss but earns accolades

Minnesota State’s football season came to an end Saturday in Sioux Falls as the Mavericks fell to Augustana 51-24 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Mavericks got on the scoreboard first with a quick field goal but soon after, the game got away from them. Within three quarters, Auggie put up 37 unanswered points before the Mavs finally found the endzone in the fourth quarter. 

But by then it was too little too late. The Vikings continued scoring as they propelled to 51 points. The Mavs found two more touchdowns to bring the score closer. 

“It was all Augustana,” head coach Todd Hoffner said in a press conference released by Augustana Athletics. “They did a lot of scoring and we turned the ball over. They wore us down, competed hard and we put our defense out here way too much. Very unfortunate.”

The Mavericks finished the season 9-3 and tied for second place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. They were one of three NSIC teams to make it to the NCAA Division II tournament. 

Along with these accolades, the team received a plethora of All-NSIC Honors. 

Shen Butler-Lawson, Marshall Foerner and Zach Roggow received All-NSIC First Team Offense honors, while Jacob Daulton, Maven Kretche, Trey Vaval and junior Khai West claimed All-NSIC First Team Defense accolades. Vaval also garnered All-NSIC First Team Special Teams honors. 

Tony Anger, Nathan Gribble, Deontae Veney and Keeshawn Westley earned All-NSIC Second Team Offense while Dakota Smith was named to All-NSIC Second Team Defense. 

“I couldn’t be more proud to wear this uniform,” Smith said. “I can confidently say I’m a Maverick for life and I couldn’t be more grateful to have him (Todd Hoffner) as my head coach and have these teammates.” 

Smith started in all 11 games this season and ranked third on the team in tackles. He also finished the season with three forced fumbles. 

Other highlights of the season came from Butler-Lawson and Vaval. Butler-Lawson rushed for 1,412 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. His rushing yards place him fifth in the nation for the season. He also finished with the fifth best season in Maverick history. He recorded six games tallying over 100 yards and two games tallying over 200. 

His season highlights came against Bemidji State and Sioux Falls. Versus Bemidji he put up 235 yards on the ground. In this game he had his season best 80 yard rush. Against Sioux Falls, he had his season best, four rushing touchdowns. 

Vaval’s performance earned him both defense and special teams accolades for good reason. On defense, he hauled in two interceptions and two blocked kicks. On special teams, he leads the team in punt return yards with 243 and ranks 14th in NCAA Division II with 11.6 yards per return. He has also notched 181 kick return yards.

To end the season highlights, West matched a school record with a 100-yard interception touchdown, Daulton led the team in tackles with 50 and Kretche led the team in tackles for loss with 10.5 and in sacks with 9.5. Lastly, the offensive line helped the team rush for 2,419 yards with 28 touchdowns and allowed a mere 11 sacks which is 14th best in the nation. 

“We are an exceptionally young team,” Hoffner said. “We have a lot of guys returning and there is going to be a lot of reflecting on what we need to do. We will find a way to get better.”

Header Photo: With the loss, MSU finishes its season with a 9-3 record. With the win, AU improves to 11-1. Augustana will now take on Colorado School of Mines in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. (Courtesy of Maverick Athletics)

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