WAHPETON, N.D. — The M State football team will move onto the MCAC championship game Sunday at Concordia University in St. Paul against Itasca Community College at 1:30 p.m., after handing No. 2 ranked North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) their only defeat of the season, 19-16.
In the first quarter the Wildcats took the lead 6-0 with a 27-yard touchdown pass but failed on the PAT. M State answered back at the quarter’s end with a 46-yard field goal by the sure-legged Carsen McKnight to cut the Wildcats’ lead in half 6-3, but NDSCS would score a touchdown with a 5-yard pass and extra-point kick, followed by a 24-yard field goal to go into halftime leading the Spartans 16-3.
In the third quarter Spartans QB Nate Hayden would connect with Fredrick Brown for an 8-yard TD pass but M State missed the PAT bringing the score to 16-9. Then later in the third quarter the Spartans forced a 16-16 tie when Rondarius Gregory scampered in from 2-yards out and McKnight put the finishing touches on with the point after. The game’s most pivotal moment came early in the fourth when a 29-yard McKnight field goal gave M State the lead at 19-16, and their defense stopped the Wildcats offense cold the rest of the quarter for the victory. McKnight’s field goal marks the second week in a row he kicked the game-winning field goal in the postseason.
Offensively M State had 305 yards of total offense including 225 yards passing and 80 yards rushing on 21 carries, while NDSCS had 335 yards total including 216 in the air and 119 on the ground on 31 attempts.
M State QB Nate Hayden went 20 for 35 and was responsible for all of the Spartans’ 225 passing yards while Brown led the team’s receivers with seven catches for 110 yards and one touchdown. The Spartans’ leading rusher was Gregory with 87 yards on 16 carries.
Defensively M State was led by William Black (7 solo tackles), Logan Burress (4 solo tackles, 2 assists) and Alieu Conteh (4 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 interception).