SMSU’s Upset Bid Of Mankato Comes Up Short
Mustangs Drop Opener 38-23
MARSHALL, Minn. – No. 3 ranked and defending Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference champion Minnesota State scored the game’s final 10 points in the fourth quarter to hold off a late Southwest Minnesota State comeback attempt to earn a 38-23 victory in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night at Mattke Field at the Schwan Regional Event Center.
MSU’s victory is its 25th straight in conference play and its 100th since joining the NSIC in 2008. Nate Gunn led the Mavericks rushing for a game-high 242 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. It was his third career 200-yard rushing game.
MSU build a 25-3 first half lead, but SMSU rallied to pull within 28-23 after three quarters of play. SMSU, which trailed 31-23 early in the fourth quarter, drove inside the MSU 15-yard line for a chance to tie the game, but an interception ended the drive and the Mavericks countered with a key touchdown to seal the win.
MSU finished the night amassing 601 yards of offense on 80 plays including 394 yards rushing. MSU’s quarterback duo of Ryan Schlichte and JD Ekowa combined to complete 11 of 22 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown.
SMSU closed the game racking up 350 yards of offense, but was held to four yards rushing which was aided by six sacks by the MSU defense.
SMSU quarterback Steven Nava, who took over for an injured Boyer Bouman after halftime, completed 15 of 21 pass attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Daniel Davis caught a game-high nine passes for 146 yards and one touchdown while teammates Luke Narveson and Gabe Galamue each caught four passes.
SMSU opened the game’s scoring following a poor snap on MSU’s first punt attempt of the game early in the first quarter. Despite taking over at the MSU 12-yard line, SMSU failed to pick up a first down and were forced to settle for a Skyler Crew 29-yard field goal at the 12:02 mark to take a 3-0 lead.
MSU answered on its ensuing drive with a nine-play, 79-yard drive capped by a Gunn 15-yard touchdown run. Brevin Kaiser followed with a two-point conversion to give MSU an 8-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
Following a punt on SMSU’s next possession, MSU countered with an eight-play, 47-yard drive that was closed off by a Gunn 2-yard touchdown run late in the quarter to extend the lead to 15-3.
The Mavericks pushed the lead to 18-3 early in the second quarter on a Luke Williams 40-yard field goal with 11:21 left in the second quarter.
The MSU defense then forced the game’s first turnover with an interception by Parrish Marrow at the MSU 25-yard line. Gunn then scored his third touchdown of the game on MSU’s next drive to end an 8-play, 74-yard drive, plowing in from two yards out to make the score 25-3 with 6:56 remaining.
SMSU answered in a big way on its next drive picking up a pair of two first downs before Bouman connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Davis to cut the deficit to 25-10 with 4:50 left in the half.
The SMSU defense came through big on the opening MSU drive of the season half stopping the Mavericks on fourth-and-one from the SMSU 31-yard line. Nava then entered the game and promptly completed six passes including a 2-yard toss to Carter Damlo to cut the deficit to 25-17 with 9:39 left in the third.
MSU answered with a 34-yard Williams field goal to make the score 28-17 at the 5:50 mark of the third quarter.
SMSU wouldn’t go away and answered with a big 10-play, 82-yard drive highlighted by a Nava 27-yard touchdown pass to Quadri Busari late in the third to make the score 28-23 following a missed two-point conversion.
Gunn opened the ensuing drive with a big 48-yard run which help setup an Ashton Garner 27-yard field goal with 13:40 remaining in the game and give the Mavericks a 31-23 lead.
SMSU made the game more interesting on its next drive as Nava completed passes for 24 yards to Bailey Olson and 11 yards to Gabe Galamue to move the ball to the MSU 44-yard line. Nava would later connected on an 18-yard pass to Narveson and was followed moments later by a 23-yard run by Duce Reynolds setting up first-and-10 from the MSU 13-yard line. But the MSU defense came through in a big way as Cole Schroedermeier stepped in front of a Nava pass at the 3-yard line to end the scoring threat.
MSU then answered with a game-clinching 90-yard drive capped off by a Schlichte 25-yard touchdown pass to Shane Zylstra midway through the fourth quarter.
MSU is now 18-0 all-time versus SMSU including 8-0 in games played in Marshall.
Southwest Minnesota State returns to action next Saturday night facing Wayne State (0-1) in Wayne, Neb., with kickoff slated for 6 p.m.
-Recap Courtesy SMSU Athletics