Earlier this week, Minnesota State University-Mankato coach Aaron Keen said, "We make our money in the run game."
Based on that analogy, the Mavericks left Herb Parker Stadium on Thursday a rich team, while Minot State University was robbed.
Mankato rushed for 241 yards, compared to negative 43 yards for MSU, as the Mavericks handled the Beavers 44-10 Thursday.
Minnesota State University-Mankato safety Samuel Thompson picks off a pass in front of Minot State University’s Kirk Mason (89) and Glyn Borel during Mankato’s win Thursday at Herb Parker Stadium.
The Beavers defense wore down in the second half, as the offense picked up just six first downs and couldn't stay on the field.
A Mankato drive in the third quarter was particularly demoralizing to the Beavers (0-1), who were playing in their first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game. The Mavericks (1-0) ate up more than half of the quarter with a 15-play, 65-yard march that included two fourth-down conversions.
Mankato missed a field goal, but was given a 4th-and-3 opportunity after an MSU defender lined up in the neutral zone. Mavericks quarterback Jon Wolf faked a handoff and ran 11 yards for a touchdown.
"Not being off the field for very long kind of killed us," junior noseguard Luke Artz said. "We had a few special teams mistakes. Our 'O' was trying but they couldn't move the sticks long enough to get a good break, and it was a little hot out, so yeah, we deteriorated a little bit towards the end but it won't happen again."
The Mankato offense created a scoring opportunity each time it received the ball in the first half - scoring a touchdown and three field goals (kicker Sam Brockshus missed a fourth try) to take a 23-10 lead into the locker room.
MSU's defense held strong in the red zone to force those field goals, as the MSU offense twice turned the ball over to give the Mavericks solid field position. Another turnover in the first half - a fumble by freshman punter Aaron LaDeaux - resulted directly in a touchdown. Junior linebacker Josh Weidler led the Beavers with 11 tackles.
"I thought our defense played well enough to keep us in the game and give us a chance to be successful," MSU coach Paul Rudolph said, "but offensively we were not capable."
The Beavers scored on their first possession following a 70-yard kickoff return by junior wideout Glyn Borel. After a five-yard Mankato penalty was tacked on, MSU's offense took over at the 10-yard line. Six plays later, Borel caught a pass from junior Bryce Jorgenson and fell backward into the end zone.
The Beavers' only sustained drive happened at the end of the second quarter. Junior receiver Wayne Peters put his stamp on it with two carries - one of them for a first down - and a 10-yard reception that set up another first down.
LaDeaux capped the 11-play march with a 49-yard field goal in his first career attempt.
Other than that brief period of execution, MSU couldn't get anything going offensively. Running backs Randel Barber and Blake Eggl were repeatedly stuffed in the backfield, but Rudolph said the entire offense was to blame.
"I don't know that we were very good up front tonight and we didn't throw the ball very well, so there was a lot of pressure on the run game," he said.
Said Mankato acting head coach Aaron Keen: "We held that team to (33 yards) total offense, which is pretty impressive. I couldn't be happier with how our defense played."
Mankato complemented its rushing attack with 160 yards passing. Wolf threw for 116 yards and rushed for 80 more, and freshman running back Connor Thomas had a game-high 81 yards rushing and a touchdown in his debut.
"I feel like I carried the ball pretty well," Thomas said. "This is my first game so nerves were definitely a big thing in the first half for me, but I just had fun the second half."
MSU sophomore quarterback Bryce Jorgenson completed 9-of-18 passes for 46 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Freshman Zac Cunha replaced him for the final two drives and completed 1-of-5 throws for 30 yards.
Mankato head coach Todd Hoffner is on leave following his arrest on two counts of child pornography.
The Beavers travel to Wayne State College (Neb.) for a 1 p.m. matchup on September 8.