Mavericks Advance To NCAA Championship Game
MANKATO, Minn. --- The Minnesota State football team put forth another solid performance Saturday afternoon at Blakeslee Stadium as it defeated Concord 47-13 to advance to the NCAA Championship game.
With the win, MSU improves to 14-0 on the season, while Concord ends its season with a 13-1 record. This will be the Mavericks' first appearance in the NCAA championship game.
The Maverick offense was rolling all game long as it posted a score in its first seven possessions, including six touchdowns on its first six drives.
Sophomore Ricky Lloyd connected with senior Jeff Burns on a 21-yard touchdown pass to get the scoring going. Junior Connor Thomas ran in the two point conversion to put the Mavericks up 8-0. The Mavericks ended the first quarter with Lloyd connecting with junior Kyle Riggott on a 20-yard pass to put the Mavericks up 15-0.
Thomas added a seven-yard touchdown catch with 7:54 left in the second quarter to increase MSU's lead to 22-0. Concord got on the board as Ben Nester ran in a touchdown from six yards out to pull the Mountain Lions within 15 at 22-7 with 4:58 left in the second quarter.
The Mavericks would respond on the very next drive as redshirt freshman Nick Pieruccini ran into the end zone from 11 yards out. Pieruccini then ran in the two point conversion to put MSU up 30-7 heading into the locker room.
MSU scored on its first possession back from break as Thomas notched an eight-yard touchdown run to put the Mavericks up 37-7. With the touchdown run, Thomas established an MSU record with 33 rushing touchdowns.
Junior Bryce Duncan later caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Lloyd to go up 44-7, before junior Alden Haffar booted a 28-yard field goal to put the Mavericks up 47-7.
Nester notched his second touchdown run of the game with 12:15 left in the game, but the Mavericks blocked the extra point to keep the score at 47-13, which held for the remainder of the game.
Lloyd finished the game completing 14-of-18 passes for 177 yards and four touchdown passes. His four touchdown passes were a season-high.
Thomas led the Maverick rushing attack with 123 rushing yards and a touchdown. He now has 3,206 rushing yards, just 14 yards behind the all-time rushing record of 3,220 yards set by senior Andy Pfeiffer.
Senior Dorian Buford led the Maverick receiving corps with 99 receiving yards.
The Maverick defense came up with three turnovers in the win over Concord, two of which came from junior Rumeal Harris. Harris recorded his fifth interception of the season and recovered a fumble, while senior Nathan Hancock tallied his sixth interception of the season.
Junior Tyler Henderson led the Mavericks with seven tackles, Hancock, senior Kris Fleigle and junior Josh Gordon following with six.
With the win, the Mavericks will now travel to Kansas City, Mo., to take part in the NCAA Championship on Saturday, Dec. 20. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m. Minnesota State will take on the winner of the game between CSU-Pueblo or West Georgia.