Gimbel’s Big Night Propels Mustangs to Win at Moorhead
Gimbel's Big Night Propels Mustangs to Win at Moorhead
MOORHEAD, Minn. – Southwest Minnesota State forced six turnovers, including a school record four interceptions by JD Jackson-Hanchett, to earn a big 51-35 victory over MSU Moorhead on Thursday night at Scheels Field at Nemzek Stadium.
SMSU, 1-1 NSIC, finished the game racking up 550 yards of offense with 27 first downs. MSUM, which opened the season with a 38-7 road win over Augustana last Saturday, drops to 1-1 NSIC.
SMSU quarterback Blake Gimbel completed 32 of 44 pass attempts for 389 yards and tied a career-high with five touchdown passes. Nate Huot caught a team-high nine passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. It was Huot’s 10th career 100-yard receiving game, tying for fourth in team history.
Max Simmons led the SMSU rushing attack with 78 yards on 27 carries and caught four passes for 50 yards.
Hanchett-Jackson added five tackles and one pass break-up to pace the defense while Michael Griffin recorded a team-high seven tackles.
Demetrius Carr passed for 419 yards and three touchdowns for the Dragons, completing 21 of 46 pass attempts. All-American wide receiver Damon Gibson caught eight passes for 174 yards and one touchdown.
MSUM closed the game with 470 total yards of offense.
It was an explosive first half for SMSU on both side of the football. The SMSU offense racked up 411 yards and 20 first downs while the SMSU defense forced three turnovers leading to 10 points.
SMSU started the scoring on its opening drive as Gimbel found Michael Rivera open across the middle of the field and sprinted to the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown reception.
MSUM quickly answered on its first drive as Carr connected on a 26-yard pass to Gibson to tie the game at 7-7.
SMSU answered with its own quick drive as Gimbel lofted a perfect 39-yard touchdown pass to a diving Huot to make the score 14-7 midway through the first quarter.
The SMSU defense made its first big play late in the first quarter as Jackson-Hanchett intercepted Carr in the end zone to end a Dragon scoring threat.
The SMSU offense responded with a 78-yard, 13-play drive that was capped by a Sklyer Crew 27-yard field early in the second quarter. It was the first career field goal for Crew.
Following a punt by MSUM, SMSU added to the lead on its next drive as Gimbel found Huot open for a 30-yard touchdown reception to close off a 70-yard drive and push the lead to 24-7 with 7:16 left in the half.
MSUM answered back just three plays later as Carr found Grady Bresnahan for a 30-yard touchdown pass to trim the lead to 24-14 at the 4:39 mark.
SMSU countered with an impressive 71-yard drive to capped by a 24-yard field goal by Crew to make the score 27-14 with 26 seconds left. The key play in the drive was a Gimbel 21-yard pass to Hamilton Mateski on third-and-nine from the SMSU 23-yard line. Gimbel later connected on a 46-yard pass to Max Simmons moving the ball to the MSUM 10-yard line.
It looked like SMSU would take a 13-point lead into halftime, but on MSUM’s ensuing drive, Webb Bolstad forced a Dragon fumble at the MSUM 26-yard line and SMSU’s Hunter Cushman returned the fumble to the 1-yard line with six seconds left. Just one play later, Gimbel found Mateski for a 1-yard touchdown to give SMSU a 34-14 halftime lead.
MSUM opened the scoring in the second half with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Hunter Braaten to make the score 34-21.
SMSU came right back to add to the lead as Gimbel connected on a 24-yard scoring strike to Quadri Busari to push the lead to 41-21 with 9:55 left in the third.
On the ensuing MSUM drive, Carr was intercepted by Jackson-Hanchett for the third time setting up the SMSU offense at the Dragon 47-yard line.
Five plays later Ashanti Payne busted through the Dragon defense for a 36-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 48-21 midway through the third quarter.
MSUM would not go away and rallied with a pair of third quarter touchdowns to cut the deficit to 48-35 with 3:13 left in the quarter.
SMSU punted on its next possession, but the Mustang defense forced the Dragons over on downs at the MSUM 31-yard line.
The Mustangs moved the ball down to the three-yard line, before settling for a Crew 26-yard field goal to make the score 51-35 with 5:25 left in the game.
Jackson-Hanchett recorded his fourth interception on the next MSUM drive to seal the victory.
Southwest Minnesota State returns home next Saturday, Sept. 16, facing Minot State for the annual Ag Bowl with kickoff slated for 6 p.m. at Mattke Field at the Schwan Regional Event Center.