MARSHALL - It was three good quarters of football and one embarrassing one.
That's how Southwest Minnesota State head coach Cory Sauter summed up his team's performance following Saturday's 43-24 loss to the University of Mary at Mattke Field in Marshall.
Up 24-17 through three quarters, the Mustangs finished with a whimper as the Marauders scored 26 unanswered points in a dominant display in the final quarter.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Southwest Minnesota State running back Warren Matthews (20)?tries to break free from a tackle while being pursued by University of Mary defender Andrew Richter (6) during Saturday’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game at Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center. Matthews had 78 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving in the Mustangs’ 43-24 loss to the Marauders.
Mary had entered the game with just 20 total rushing yards in its first two contests. The Marauders exploded for 229 yards on the ground Saturday behind a 26-carry, 150-yard effort by sophomore running back Dariouse Gravely, who was playing in his first game of the year.
It wasn't just SMSU's defense that struggled down the stretch. The Mustangs accumulated a grand total of 13 yards of offense in their final five possessions. Last year, the Mustangs beat Mary in a 48-45 shootout. In Saturday's Ag Bowl rematch, they ran out of ammo.
SMSU's offense was playing into the wind in the fourth quarter, but Sauter said the wind wasn't the issue.
"Pass protection was an issue, drops were an issue, communication was an issue," said Sauter, whose team drops to 1-2 in 2012. "We just really self-destructed, if you're looking for a way to describe that fourth quarter.
"That's not acceptable, especially with a group of guys, as far as our offense, that have played together for a while. The things that we did, there's no excuse for them."
The win moves the Marauders to 3-0 this season, the program's best start since 2005.
Mary entered the game with one of the most prolific passing attacks in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. In the first half Saturday, quarterback Craig Bagnell and the Marauders' offense were held in check by stiff winds and a strong effort by SMSU's defense. They were limited to 10 points and 148 yards in the first 30 minutes, and SMSU defensive backs Joe Stupka and Donovan Woods each came up with an interception of Bagnell by early in the third quarter.
Despite a couple of dropped passes, the Mustang offense managed to put SMSU in front with some big plays through the air. Six minutes into the first quarter, quarterback Tyler Peschong threw across the field to running back Warren Matthews, who sprinted down the left sideline for a 70-yard touchdown.
Then, after a 42-yard field goal by Lance Schuveiller, SMSU took a 17-10 lead into the half when Peschong threw a perfect pass to wideout Anthony Dean on the left side of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown strike with 1 minute, 11 seconds left in the second quarter.
Mary head coach Myron Schulz said he knew his offense would have to pick it up in the second half to earn a win.
"Southwest is explosive. That quarterback is for real. Coach Sauter does a great job with their offense," Schulz said. "We knew that you better score when you get it because there's a chance they might score every time.
"Part of it was we remembered last year and what that game was, and that's what this one was shaping up to be."
The Marauders and Mustangs traded touchdowns in the third quarter. Bagnell hit Jeremy Mayfield for a 22-yard touchdown pass five minutes into the second half, and two minutes later SMSU receiver Abe Kos got behind the Mary secondary and hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Peschong.
Mary tied the game at 24 early in the fourth quarter when Bagnell found Nick Jolliffe on a 10-yard touchdown pass. After an SMSU three-and-out, Mary quickly took the lead when Gravely busted a 44-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to put his team up 31-24 with 10:08 remaining.
A holding penalty negated a first down run on SMSU's next drive and the Mustangs were again forced to quickly give the ball back to the Marauders. Mary took over at midfield and moved the ball on the ground inside SMSU's 10-yard line. On third-and-goal, Bagnell took the snap and had trouble finding a receiver, rolled right, then saw Bryan Sandy wide open in the back of the end zone and hit him for a six-yard touchdown pass to put Mary up 37-24 and basically seal the game with 4:19 remaining.
Bagnell, who finished 20-for-31 passing for 199 yards and three touchdowns, said the blockers up front were the key to his team's fourth-quarter explosion.
"It's a little tougher trying to push the ball into the wind, but we were hurting ourselves and SMSU was making some plays," Bagnell said. "It just came down to who was going to be more physical down at the end, and our O-line came up and did that."
Peschong went 13-for-29 passing for 225 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He was also sacked four times. Matthews had 11 carries for 78 of SMSU's 115 rushing yards.
Mary had a huge edge on third-down conversions, going 9 of 13 compared to 4 of 13 for the Mustangs.
"All in all, it was just a disappointing loss, especially with the amount of work that you put in during the course of the week with the workouts and practices and lifting and meetings," said Sauter, whose team plays at Minnesota-Crookston next week. "To have an outcome like this, it just doesn't feel very good right now."
Mary10 0 7 26-43
SMSU7 10 7 0-24
M-Craig Bagnell 7 run (Tyler Ryan kick), 9:54
SMSU-Warren Matthews 70 pass from Tyler Peschong (Lance Schuveiller kick), 9:04
M-Ryan 30 field goal, 2:53
SMSU-Schuveiller 42 field goal, 11:52
SMSU-Anthony Dean 23 pass from Peschong (Schuveiller kick), 1:11
M-Jeremy Mayfield 22 pass from Bagnell (Ryan kick), 10:05
SMSU-Abe Kos 33 pass from Peschong (Schuveiller kick), 7:53
M-Nick Jolliffe 10 pass from Bagnell (Ryan kick), 12:34
M-Dariouse Gravely 44 run (Ryan kick), 10:08
M-Bryan Sandy 6 pass from Bagnell (Ryan kick blocked), 4:19
M-Evan Gross 8 run (Bagnell pass fail), 2:53
First Downs: Mary 28; SMSU 20. Rushing Yards: Mary 229; SMSU 115. Passing Yards: Mary 199; SMSU 230. Total Offense: Mary 428; SMSU 345. Turnovers: Mary 2; SMSU 1. Penalties (Number-Yards): Mary 10-89; SMSU 7-85. Time of Possession: Mary 32:50; SMSU 27:10. Third-Down Conversions: Mary 9 of 13; SMSU 4 of 13. Sacks By (Number-Yards): Mary 4-31; SMSU 0-0.
Rushing: Mary-Dariouse Gravely 26-150, Evan Gross 15-74, Craig Bagnell 1-7; SMSU-Warren Matthews 11-78, Gannon Moore 7-32, Tyler Peschong 12-17, Tyler Tonderum 1-0, Abe Kos 1-(-12).
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Mary-Bagnell 20-31-199-2; SMSU-Peschong 13-29-225-1, Charlie Kern 1-3-5-0.
Receiving: Mary-Elby Pope 7-46, DJ Young 4-52, Bryan Sandy 4-36, Myron Baldoz-McArn 3-33, Jeremy Mayfield 1-22, Nick Jolliffe 1-10; SMSU-Tyler Erickson 3-41, Matthews 2-87, Kos 2-40, Will Kurka 2-8, Anthony Dean 1-23, Adam Olson 1-14, Jordan Cross 1-8, Cody Condon 1-5, Moore 1-4.
Tackles: Mary-Grant Singer 11, Mikey Ingemansen 6, Scott Maldonado 5, Craig Jeffrey 5, Gary Gellerman 5; SMSU-Tate Bunkers 12, J.J. Bobrowicz 9, Blake Pennock 9, A.J. Page 8, Dashawn Miller 8, Donovan Woods 6, Mark Schollmeyer 5, Joe Stupka 5.
Interceptions: Mary-Jeffrey; SMSU-Stupka, Woods.
Sacks: Mary-Singer 1.5, John Oyloe 1, Jake Nicholson 0.5, Troy Guptill 0.5, Ingemansen 0.5; SMSU-none.