Max Simmons rushed for a 112 yards and tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns to help lead Southwest Minnesota State to a 47-13 victory over Minnesota Crookston in NSIC football on Saturday afternoon at Ed Widseth Field.
SMSU (3-1 NSIC) piled up a season-high 594 yards of offense and also racked up a season-high 32 first downs. UMC (0-4 NSIC) was limited to 301 yards—a season low by an SMSU opponent this season—and 15 first downs.
The Mustang defense recorded three interceptions, including returning one for a touchdown.
SMSU’s Blake Gimbel completed 20 of 28 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown to help the Mustang offense, while Nate Huot finished with a team-high five receptions for 79 yards.
Tyler Flud paced the SMSU defense with six tackles, including returning an interception 48 yards for a third quarter touchdown. Caleb Leichtnam also added six tackles for the Mustangs.
UMC’s Nathan Cole passed for 119 yards and one touchdown on 13 of 19 attempts, but was intercepted three times and was pulled in the third quarter. Andre Person rushed for a team-high 82 yards on 22 carries for the Golden Eagles.
SMSU opened the game with ball and moved into a stiff wind down to the UMC 12-yard line, but an intentional ground penalty stalled the drive and SMSU was forced to turn the ball over on downs.
It was the first time in 14 tries this season SMSU failed to score inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
After the SMSU defense turned over UMC on downs near midfield, the Mustang offense took advantage of the short field and moved 53 yards on eight plays with Simmons scoring on a 9-yard touchdown run with four minutes and 56 seconds left in the opening quarter.
UMC tied the score early in the second quarter as Triston Richert caught a 9-yard pass from Cole on third-and-four to make the score 7-7.
Following a short kickoff by UMC, the SMSU offense moved 40 yards in eight plays with Simmons dashing in on a 5-yard touchdown with 8:20 remaining in the half to give SMSU a 14-7 advantage.
After a punt by UMC, SMSU extended the lead to 21-7 as Gimbel found Raphael Lawson-Gayle open for a 45-yard touchdown strike with 2:11 on the clock.
Dallin Finely stopped UMC’s next drive with his first interception of the season with 57 seconds left in the half to give the Mustang offense one more chance in the half.
SMSU moved the ball inside the UMC 10-yard line with less than 10 seconds remaining, but back-to-back incomplete passes ended the half with SMSU holding a 21-7 lead.
The Mustang defense then used a pair of huge plays early in the third quarter to help start the blowout. On UMC’s first possession of the half, Caleb Leichtnam recorded his first interception of the season to set up the offense near midfield.
Five plays later Simmons ripped off a 21-yard touchdown run to make the score 27-7 midway through the third quarter. Just moments later, Cole was intercepted near midfield and Flud weaved through the UMC offense for a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown to push the lead to 33-7. It was SMSU’s first interception return for a touchdown since Daryl Thomas in 2014.
Simmons would add his record-tying touchdown later in the third quarter on a 3-yard run with 41 seconds remaining extending the margin to 40-7
SMSU’s final score came midway through the final quarter as Hudson Walton plowed in on a 3-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 47-7.
Southwest Minnesota State will open NSIC South Division play next Saturday, Oct. 1, taking on Upper Iowa University for Homecoming with kickoff slated for 6 p.m. at the Schwan Regional Event Center.