Story and photo courtesy of Minnesota State Athletics
MANKATO, Minn. - The sixth-ranked Minnesota State football team remained undefeated Saturday as it earned a 27-13 victory over 17th-ranked Sioux Falls Saturday afternoon in front of 4,041 fans in Blakeslee Stadium.
With the victory, Minnesota State (10-0, 10-0 NSIC) earned a share of the 2012 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title and a share of the NSIC South Division crown. A win next week for the Mavericks over Upper Iowa would secure both titles outright. MSU has now won 16 NSIC or NIC crowns and has claimed four of the last five NSIC South Division titles.
The win also matched the Mavericks best start in school history, tying the 2009 team, which also started 10-0.
“We were excited to play Sioux Falls this week,” said acting head coach Aaron Keen. “We came out and executed on both sides of the ball and we’ll enjoy this one for one more day before getting ready for Upper Iowa.”
The Mavericks opened the game with a five-play, 75-yard drive that was culminated by a two-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Jon Wolf.
Wolf’s arm, however, is what kept the drive alive for Minnesota State as his 67-yard completion to redshirt freshman Kyle Riggott on third down and ten from the MSU 25 moved MSU deep into USF territory. The completion was the longest play from scrimmage this season for the Mavericks.
After USF nailed a 20-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3 late in the first quarter, Wolf engineered a 16-play, 65-yard drive which concluded with 44-yard field goal by junior kicker Sam Brockshus with 8:45 left in the opening half. The drive chewed up eight minutes and 11 seconds and spanned the course of the first and second quarters.
On the ensuing USF possession, Minnesota State junior defensive end Chris Schaudt gathered his second career interception – and second of the season and returned it 40 yards to the USF six-yardline setting up the Maverick offense.
On the very next play, redshirt freshman Connor Thomas bounced to the left side and punched in a six-yard touchdown run, his seventh of the season. The extra point by Brockshus was good as MSU opened a 17-3 lead with 6:38 left in the half.
The Mavericks closed the half with a 22-yard field goal by Brockshus extending the score to 20-3.
The field goal was set up thanks in part to a blocked punt by sophomore wideout Kevyan Rudd, which gave the Mavericks the ball on the 25-yard line.
After both teams played to a scoreless third quarter, USF opened the fourth-quarter with a 22-yard field goal by Braden Wieking.
Minnesota State answered with its final scoring drive of the game as Wolf found senior wideout Adam Thielen on fourth-and-one for a 40-yard scoring strike. Brockshus tacked on the PAT and MSU opened a 27-6 lead with 11:14 remaining in the game.
USF scored its first touchdown of the game with 3:49 remaining when quarterback Taylor Perkins scrambled from one-yard out, closing the scoring for both teams.
Wolf finished the game completing 11-of-19 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown while rushing ten times for 31 yards and a score. Sophomore running back Andy Pfeiffer rushed 17 times for 53 yards while.
Thielen finished with five catches for 93 yards, recording his fifth straight game with 90 yards receiving or more.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Kris Fleigle had nine tackles while Schaudt added five tackles, including three sacks for a loss of 21 yard and the interception.
As a team, the Mavericks finished with 114 yards of rushing and 200 passing for a total of 314 for the game while limiting the Cougars to just 246 yards, only 43 of which came via the ground attack. The defensive effort marked the seventh time this season that MSU has limited its opponents to 100 yards or less in rushing offense.
Minnesota State concludes the regular season portion of its schedule next Saturday when it entertains Upper Iowa at 1 pm.