Last second field goal sinks Dragons in Mankato

Courtesy: Dustin Eichten MSUM GO! TEAM
Courtesy: Dustin Eichten MSUM GO! TEAM

MANKATO, Minn. – MSU Moorhead and Minnesota State had a classic, physical matchup from Blakeslee Stadium on Saturday afternoon as the Mavericks narrowly defeated the Dragons 24-21 on a late field goal in the fourth quarter.

Taking the ball to begin the half, Minnesota State's potent offense would quickly drive 39 yards on four plays for their first score. A solid kickoff return set the Mavericks up in good position to score an opening drive touchdown, but a missed extra point only gave them a 6-0 lead. On MSUM's first offensive drive, they would also utilize a great special teams return from Louis Sobiech to earn favorable field position.

The Dragons would travel 46 yards in just over 90 seconds to knot the game at six points each. Jack Strand connected with Madden Thorson for a four-yard score to answer the Mavericks. From there, Minnesota State would impose themselves on the offensive end, traveling 74 yards on 16 plays to chew up nearly nine minutes of game time. The Mavericks would score again and add a two-point conversion to take a 14-7 lead.

The Dragons would score at the top of the second frame to tie the Mavericks. Once again, Strand would find Thorson for an 11-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 points. MSUM would force a fumble on the ensuing Maverick drive with Minnesota State deep in Dragon territory. The Dragons would utilize the turnover and put together an eight-play drive that spanned 59 yards in just over four minutes. Gage Florence was on the receiving end of another Strand toss, this time at the goal line. Just before the half, Minnesota State would tack on the equalizing touchdown to bring the score to 21-21 at the end of the first half. Strand threw for 188 yards and three touchdowns in the first half for MSUM.

Quarter number three would see both squads buckle down on the defensive end. Minnesota State would force a turnover on downs on the opening Dragon drive of the second half. MSUM would respond by forcing their second fumble of the contest with Denver Sheets the responsible party. MSUM's frontline was stiff all afternoon, holding the nation's leading rusher, Shen Butler Lawson, to just 70 yards on 19 attempts.

The Mavericks would turn right around and force a Dragon fumble to keep the score gridlocked. While MSUM had an opportunity to take a three-point advantage late in the quarter, the kick was missed. With 15 minutes left to be played, the two squads remained tied at 21.

Defense and special teams would continue to run the fourth quarter as McKale Pierson would block a Maverick punt to open the fourth quarter. Devin Beach recovered the ball and gave the Dragons great field position with a chance to take the lead again. Unfortunately for MSUM, they again missed a field goal attempt from 35 yards out.

MSUM would have another opportunity to take the lead, driving to the Maverick 11-yard line before being met with a fourth and five play. Strand attempted a back shoulder throw to Carter Birrenkottwhich was broken up by Minnesota State. With under three minutes remaining, the Mavericks took over possession.

The Mavericks would drive to the MSUM 17-yard line and attempt a field goal with eight seconds remaining. Minnesota State would connect on the 34-yard attempt to take a 24-21 lead with four seconds left in the contest. The Dragons were able to run one more play on offense, but Strand would be unable to connect with any of his receivers on a late heave. 

Top Dragons

Jack Strand: 37-66, 384 yards, three touchdowns

Madden Thorson: Nine receptions, 111 yards, two touchdowns

Gage Florence: 14 receptions, 152 yards, one touchdown

Josiah Behm: 14 tackles, six solo tackles, three solo tackles for loss

Tate Gustafson: Nine tackles, one tackle for loss

Up Next
MSUM (3-3, 2-3 NSIC) will welcome Sioux Falls to Nemzek Stadium for the annual Homecoming game on Saturday, October 14 with game coverage available on AM 1100 The Flag. Pregame will begin at 11 a.m. with kickoff is scheduled for noon.


This article was written by MSUM's Nolan Schmidt