SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (USF) — In an offensive shootout, No. 4 Minnesota State (10-0, 10-0 NSIC) handed the University of Sioux Falls Football Team (7-3, 7-3 NSIC) a heart-breaking 42-39 setback before 1,557 in attendance on Senior Day at Bob Young Field.
With the victory, the Mavericks captured their 34th straight league victory and improved their all-time series lead over USF to 8-2. The Cougars, which honored 25 seniors in a pre-game ceremony, had their five-game winning streak come to an end with the heart-breaking setback. USF will close the regular season at Wayne State for a 1 pm kickoff. It was a tough loss for USF which was ranked eighth in the Super Region 4 rankings with the top seven teams picked to move on to the national playoffs after the regular season. MSU staked a claim for the top seed in the region after the tough road win. MSU was ranked second after the second of three regional rankings were released earlier this week.
Led by senior quarterback Caden Walters, USF finished with 371 yards in total offense on 64 plays. Walters completed 16-of-25 passes for 263 yards and tied a career-high with four TD passes and also have a nine-yard TD run. As a result, he had 320 yards in total offense with five total TDs. As a result, he registered the second best total offense performance of his career.
“This was a tough loss but I am proud of the guys who never quit and kept coming after one of the top teams in the country,” said USF Head Coach Jon Anderson, who is now 23-10 at USF. “We needed to make another play or two and the results could have been different. Still, these games hung tough like brothers do and they played their hearts out.”
USF’s receiving corps was led by junior wideout Jermaine Broadnax with five catches for 78 yards, including an acrobatic play in the middle of the field that kept a late drive by USF alive. Karnell Collier added four catches for 92 yards and had TD receptions of 25 and 34 yards. Senior Nate Johnson added three catches for 33 yards and an eight-yard TD reception. On the ground, USF finished with 39 rushes for 108 yards and Walters led the way with 17 rushes for 57 yards. Sophomore running back Thuro Reisdorfer, who surpasses 1,000 yards in his career, had 14 carries for 43 yards and caught three passes for 23 yards and a 22-yard TD reception. Reisdorfer now has 133 carries for 906 rushing yards on the season.
MSU was led by senior running back Nate Gunn who had 29 carries for 254 yards and six TDs. MSU had 488 yards in total offense on 69 plays.
In a matchup of the top two defenses in NCAA DII, it was the offenses which stepped up in this big stage late in the NSIC season. The Mavericks grabbed a 14-3 lead before USF rallied with 14 points in the second quarter and took a 17-14 lead at the halftime break. MSU was able to retake the lead in the third quarter and built a 35-24 lead. Both teams had offensive counterpunches as USF answered each MSU score, drawing within 42-39 with 2:19 to play. However, USF’s onside kick was recovered by MSU which gained a first down on a Gunn run to ice the win.
USF intercepted their 18th pass of the season as senior Tucker Stout had his fifth of the season with this third straight game with a pick. Stout led USF with nine tackles and had seven solo stops. Freshman defensive tackle Amaurii Grosskopf added a career-high eight tackles while Dorian Fedrick and Nate Durfee both had six stops. Harvey Enalls, who had five tackles, had his fifth sack of the season while Joe Rodino had his first sack and added five tackles.
Early on the Mavericks took control of the game as they jumped to a 14-3 lead after Gunn scored a pair of TDs. With 8:04 to play in the first quarter, Gunn’s one-yard TD run provided MSU with a 7-0 lead after an eight-play, 64-yard drive that took 3:36.
On the next USF drive, the Cougars moved the ball 42 yards on nine plays and Daniel Esparza’s 40-yard field goal helped USF to cut the lead to 7-3 with 1:04 to play in the first quarter.
MSU answered USF’s score with another sustained scoring drive which covered 73 yards and 11 plays. Gunn’s 10-yard scoring run gave the Mavericks a 14-3 lead with 12:07 to play in the second quarter.
After that, USF took control of the first half on both sides of the ball. With 9:27 to play in the second quarter, Reisdorfer hauled in a 22-yard pass from Walters to cut the lead to 14-10. USF’s drive covered 69 yards in five plays and used 2:34 of the clock.
The Cougars took their first lead of the game with 6:09 to play in the second quarter after Tucker Stout had his fifth interception of the season to set up USF deep in the MSU territory. Walters scored on a nine-yard run on third down for a 17-14 lead. USF’s drive covered 24 yards in four plays and used up 1:39 of the clock.
In the third quarter, MSU quickly regained the lead as Gunn scored his third TD of the game as MSU took a 21-17 lead. Then, USF answered in kind as Walter’s floated a perfect pass to Collier for a 25-yard TD play and the Cougars took a 24-21 lead with 4:15 left in the quarter.
Then, after USF committed interference in the middle of the field, MSU retook the lead on another Gunn TD run from 32 yards for a 28-24 advantage with 1:00 to play in the quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Gunn scored his fifth of the game on a two-yard run (12:24) for a 35-24 lead.
However, this resilient group of Cougars had no quit and battled back. On the next drive, the Cougars had another answer as Walters connected on a nine-yard TD throw to Johnson. On the two-point conversion, Walters hit Collier for the successful try as USF pulled within 35-32. In the back and forth offensive show in the second half, Gunn had another answer with his sixth TD of the game on a 33-yard run for a 42-32 lead at the 5:33 mark of the fourth quarter. But once again, USF had the answer when Walters hit Collier on his second TD of the game from 34 yards with 2:19 to play. Then, MSU covered the onside kick and locked the game away with a first down.