Story and photo courtesy of Minnesota State Athletics
MANKATO, Minn. - Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium turned out to be a historic day for the Minnesota State football program. Its 70-7 pummeling of the Peacocks of Upper Iowa put a cap on the program’s first undefeated regular season in school history. The win clinches MSU’s first NSIC South Division crown and outright conference championship.
“With this being my last year and all that I’ve gone through and all that this team has gone through, it’s pretty special to be at this point in the season and have 11 wins for the first time in school history,” said senior Adam Thielen. “The outright conference championship feels pretty good (too).”
The team’s 70 points tied a school record for most points scored in a game and their 63 point margin of victory is now second most lopsided in history. Also, junior kicker Sam Brockshus booted ten extra points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer with 244 points, surpassing Ken Navitsky’s mark of 241 points.
“I feel really blessed and honored to be a part of this team,” said junior Chris Schaudt. “I’m glad we really capitalized on it today and went out on a high note.”
MSU proved they were conference’s best team early and often in the afternoon. While the defense held Upper Iowa to three straight three-and-outs, the offense was busy scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions. Andy Pfeiffer, Connor Thomas, and Jon Wolf all had rushing scores and Thielen added a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown as the Mavericks outscored the Peacocks 28-0 in the first quarter.
The Mavericks ran roughshod over Upper Iowa’s defense amassing 492 yards on the ground compared to the Peacocks’ 78. Quarterbacks Mitch Brozovich and Wolf led the way with 91 and 87 yards, respectively. Thomas added 81 yards and Kenthen King contributed with 71.
Overall, the offense totaled 604 yards while allowing only 233 to Upper Iowa. The 604 yards of total offense is the most by a Maverick team since it accumulated 699 yards against Northwest Missouri State in a 55-28 win on Sept. 4, 1993.
Defensively, Minnesota State was led by redshirt freshman Evan Koehler who had nine tackles. Junior safety Jordan Hale has two tackles and two interceptions returning them for 58 yards, including a 14-yard return for a touchdown.
Acting head coach Aaron Keen received his first Gatorade bath from his players near the end of the warm day in Mankato. He feels he has the right players who know that it takes all the little things to make the big goals come to fruition.
“I feel very special about the way the guys have come in each week and believed in our theme of going 1-0,” he said. “I think it’s a tough thing in football when you start talking about conference championships, regional championships, and national championships. It’s very easy to look ahead. Our guys have done a great job of focusing on the task at hand and going 1-0 every week.”
MSU has now gone 1-0 for 11 straight weeks and waits where they will be placed for the playoffs. There will a “Watch Party” on Sunday at the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings where the team and the public is invited to watch the selection show for the unveiling of the 2012 NCAA Division II playoff bracket. Social hour begins at 3 p.m. with the show airing at 4 p.m. The show can also be watched on ncaa.com.