MANKATO, MN – It was an all-regular season rematch during the opening round of the Super Region 4 NCAA DII football playoffs.
From Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato, Minnesota, #3 Minnesota State-Mankato welcomed in #6 Wayne State College Saturday afternoon.
After being tied 3-3 at half, Minnesota State-Mankato went on a 16-point third quarter scoring surge and won 26-9. The Mavericks improved to 10-2 (6-0 at Blakeslee Stadium) while Wayne State College fell to 9-3 (fourth nine-win season in school history).
The host Mavericks entered the weekend #19 in the AFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll and #13 in the D2Football.com Top 25 Media Poll while the Wildcats were receiving votes (38) just outside the AFCA and #23 in D2Football.com media rankings.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Wildcats were first to strike with a 36-yard field goal from senior placekicker Alex Powders. With 12:24 left in the first half, WSC led 3-0.
Following a Wildcat fumble late in the second quarter, the Mavericks were able to score three points from sophomore kicker Damian Chowaniec (23-yard FG) with 35 seconds remaining.
At the break, both teams were tied at 3-3.
A high snap caused the Wildcats to recover the ball in their own end zone for a Maverick two-point touchback to lead for the first time at 5-3, 46 seconds into the third quarter.
Sophomore tight end Tony Anger rushed in from five-yards and a yard receptively with 10:59 and 2:06 to play in the third quarter.
Minnesota State led 19-3 entering the fourth.
The Mavericks would take their largest lead of the game when sophomore quarterback Hayden Ekern ran in from nine-yards. MSU led 26-3 with 11:25 to play in the game.
Wayne State College scored late thanks to a 22-yard passing touchdown from sophomore Nick Bohn to senior Mason Lee with 1:11 to play. The two-point conversion failed.
Final score favored Minnesota State-Mankato over Wayne State College, 26-9.
Bohn finished 16-31 for 129 yards with one score and ran 16 times for nine net yards. Senior tailback Anthony Watkins carried the ball 11 times for 37 yards, freshman Dawson Forgy added 20 yards on three carries as sophomore Jacob Keiser ran the ball six times for 19 yards.
Lee hauled in four receptions on eight targets for 49 yards and a score as sophomore Ashten Schmaderer recorded five catches on seven targets for 41 yards.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Alex Kowalczyk closed the game with 11 tackles (seven solo) and a tackle for loss followed by senior linebacker Jaylan Scott who added six tackles (four solo) and a tackle for loss. Sophomore defensive lineman Jaxon Johnson tallied five tackles (four solo) with a TFL and junior safety Tanner Cooper tacked on five solo tackles.
Wayne State College ran 68 plays for 216 yards (129 passing/87 rushing) compared to 57 plays for 287 yards (214 rushing/73 passing) for Minnesota State-Mankato.
Both teams finished 8-for-15 on third down conversions. MSU went 2-4 on fourth down as WSC was 1-3 on fourth down.
Other first round Super Region 4 playoff results saw #2 Colorado School of Mines defeat #7 CSU Pueblo, 45-24 as #4 Bemidji State defeated #5 Winona State, 31-7.
Minnesota State will next face Colorado School of Mines while Bemidji State will travel south to #1 Angelo State of Texas in Super Region 4 DII playoff action on Saturday, November 26.