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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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2008 Homecoming Football

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Minnesota State Mankato vs. Winona
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Time: 1pm
Blakeslee Stadium
W 35-32

Homecoming Football PhotoThe Minnesota State football team won its first homecoming game in seven tries with a thrilling 35-32 victory over Winona State University Saturday afternoon in front of 5,787 fans in Blakeslee Stadium on the campus of Minnesota State University. The game marked the first contest between the two schools in 28 years.

The win marked MSU’s first Homecoming victory since it earned a 26-25 win over North Dakota State on Oct. 13, 2001. Minnesota State (4-1, 4-0 NSIC) is off to its best start since the 1993 season when it started 5-0. That year, the Mavericks made the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

“That was a classic football game and it could have gone either way,” said head coach Todd Hoffner. “The home field made a big difference and our guys really rallied around each other. We are 2-0 at home but we will have to continue to get better game by game.”

The Warriors opened the game with a very methodical drive as they covered 79 yards in eight plays, using 3:46 off the clock. Winona State, which used a healthy mix of passing and rushing plays on the drive, capped the drive with a six-yard run from running back Andrew Verbancouer. After the extra point, Winona State took a 7-0 edge.

Minnesota State answered with 2:46 remaining in the first half when junior quarterback Ryan Fick bowled in from a yard out. Redshirt-freshman kicker Grady Derheim tacked on the extra point to tie the game at seven.

After a fumble gave Minnesota State the ball on the 33 yardline with a more than a minute remaining in the first quarter, Fick found junior wideout Vincent Flury on a fly pattern down the right sideline for a 33-yard scoring strike. The extra point gave MSU a 14-7 advantage.

Both teams went scoreless in the second quarter.

The second half proved to be a different story than the first as the two teams combined for 40 points in the game’s final 30 minutes.

Winona State opened the second half scoring with a 12-yard Verbancouer run into the endzone. The extra point was blocked and MSU held onto a 14-13 edge.

Fick would follow with his second scoring play of the game – again from a yard out – and after the extra point, MSU held a 21-13 edge.

Winona State answered with 2:02 remaining in the third period when quarterback Greg Preston connected on a 28-yard scoring strike to Tyree Burks, the two-point conversion failed and MSU led 21-19.

Minnesota State would extend its lead on the ensuing kick return as junior returner Kelvin Rodgers scampered 77-yards to paydirt to extend the Maverick edge to 28-19 after the extra point. It marked Rodgers third return for a touchdown in as many weeks. Two weeks ago, he returned an interception for a score against U-Mary and last week he returned a kick for a touchdown at Wayne State.

Verbancouer would add a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to give Winona State a 32-28 the last coming with 5:26 remaining in the game.

Fick punched in the game’s 10th and final score when he rolled left on a naked bootleg to cap an eight-play, 65-yard drive over 3:21 with 2:05 remaining in the game. The extra point would give MSU a 35-32 win.

Winona State crossed the 50 in the game’s final minute, however senior linebacker Blake Freese hauled in an interception to seal the win.

The Mavericks were led offensively by Fick who completed 17-of-26 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown. Fick also ran the ball 12 times for36 yards and three scores.

“We did a good job of digging deep when we needed to,” said Fick who finished the game with three interceptions. “Besides me, it was 10 other guys on the field on offense and they picked me up.“

Senior running back Donte Shackelford added 88 yards on 21 carries, while junior wideout Vincent Flury caught six passes for 109 yards and a score.

Randy Spring led all Winona State rushers with 21 carries for 96 yards while Preston completed 16-of-26 passes for 241 yards. Tyree Burks caught four passes for 83 yards.

Defensively, the Mavericks were led by sophomore linebacker Matt McQuiston who tallied 14 tackles, including one-and-a-half for a loss. Redshirt-freshman Jesse Hamilton added eight stops, as did senior safety Ryan Weinzierl.

Rodgers finished the game with 135 yards on kick returns and now has 1,245 career kick return yards. His total surpasses Scott Roach who accumulated 1,123 kick return yards from 1983-86.

Both teams finished nearly identical in the team stats as the Mavericks ran 72 plays for 447 yards while Winona State ran 68 plays for 462 yards. On the ground, MSU netted 151 yards to WSU’s 145, while the Mavericks gained 296 yards through the air and the Warriors accumulated 317.

Notes: Captains for Saturday’s game were: senior offensive lineman Jake Droessler, senior defensive lineman Chris Brunkhorst, senior running back Donte Shackelford and senior linebacker Blake Freese…MSU has won its first homecoming game in six tries…The last Maverick Homecoming win came in a 26-25 win over North Dakota State on Oct. 13, 2001…The Mavericks have won four straight contests for the fist time since 1994…MSU is 4-0 in league play for the first time since 1958…The Mavericks have improved to 29-15-4 all-time against Winona State…MSU has recorded at least one interception in every game this season and has two or more interceptions in each of its last four games.