Season ends at 10-2 for MSU
By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
Ten days ago, the Minnesota State football team was rolling into the playoffs. On Saturday, the season was over.
“Our goal wasn’t 10-2,” senior quarterback Ryan Fick said. “We did some nice things and made some nice strides in the program, but it's a frustrating thing, it’s a sad thing.”
A 34-yard field goal in overtime by Mark Petro allowed Hillsdale College to defeat Minnesota State 27-24 in the opening round of the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium. It’s the second straight season that Minnesota State has reached the postseason and lost the first game. Saturday’s game was the first home playoff game in the program’s history.
“It was a classic football game; it’s unfortunate that somebody had to lose,” Minnesota State coach Todd Hoffner said. “We made a couple mistakes down the stretch that cost us, but there’s 170 other plays in the game, it doesn’t boil to down to one.”
A fake punt near midfield highlighted the Mavericks’ first drive, which went 80 yards in eight plays. Jake Aberg rushed for 43 of the yards, including a 14-yarder off tackle in which he was untouched into the end zone. Sam Brockshus’ PAT made it 7-0 after less than five minutes.
Hillsdale answered with an equally effective drive, mixing six runs with three passes to produce an 80-yard touchdown drive. Bill Kanitz’s 1-yard run and PAT kick by Petro tied the score at 7 after each team’s first possession.
The Mavericks’ next possession, a 10-play drive, spilled into the second quarter, and on the first play after the break, Fick passed 21 yards to Vincent Flury for the touchdown. It was only the third pass attempt of the game for Fick, who has played in just three games because of injuries.
“I felt good to start the game, but it kind of went downhill after that,” Fick said. The whole game was a rollercoaster.”
Again, Hillsdale matched the score, going 73 yards in 12 plays, including a fourth-down conversion at the Minnesota State 26. Kanitz’s second carry of the game produced another 1-yard touchdown, and the score was tied at 14 with 7:48 to play in the first half.
Each defense got a stop, but the Mavericks had the ball last. After getting the ball to Hillsdale 15 in the final seconds, Minnesota State settled for Brockshus’ 42-yard field goal on the final play for a 17-14 lead.