The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 18, 2012

Courrier column: MSU football team learns about redemption

Athletics certainly provides the thrill of victory and agony of defeat, but perhaps the best quality is a chance for redemption.

During the Minnesota State football team’s 34-31, double-overtime victory against Southwest Minnesota State last Saturday, there were a few Mavericks players who were able to savor a moment of redemption and celebrate an exciting victory at Blakeslee Stadium.

Back in 2009, Adam Thielen was a freshman receiver on one of the best teams ever at Minnesota State, and it was overtime during the first playoff game ever hosted at Blakeslee. The Mavericks had scored a touchdown in the final minute of regulation to tie the game at 24, forcing the overtime.

Minnesota State had the ball to begin overtime, and on the first play, Thielen was called for an illegal block that moved the football back to the 40. On the next play, Thielen caught a pass but fumbled at the 26. Hillsdale recovered, then converted a field goal on the next possession to end the game.

On Saturday, Thielen, now a senior, was having a quiet game until the Mavericks went down 14. Then, Thielen caught a 15-yard pass as the Mavericks went 51 yards in four plays to get a touchdown. Thielen was even better in the next drive, catching four passes for 62 yards, the final 8 coming on the tying touchdown with 39 seconds to play.

Thielen was clutch on Saturday, in nearly the same spot on the field as four years ago, which had to be satisfying.

Kicker Sam Brockshus faced a little deja vu on Saturday. It was also back in 2009 when Brockshus was a freshman in a much-hyped home game against Wayne State, and Brockshus missed a 21-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter that could have put the Mavericks up 10.

But he kicked another field goal right before halftime that helped erase the bad memory. The game eventually went into overtime, and Brockshus kicked a 27-yard field goal in the first overtime, and after the Wayne State kicker missed in the second overtime, Brockshus booted the game-winner form 19 yards out.

Flash forward again to Saturday, and Brockshus missed badly on a 22-yarder to end the first possession, which didn’t seem so important at the time. But as the Mustangs began to take control, the missed points loomed larger as the game went along.

Finally, the Mavericks scored two late touchdowns, and Brockshus was good on the PAT. In the first overtime, he made another PAT. The clutch kick came to end the second overtime, when his 20-yard provided the winning points.

He said he drew back on that experience against Wayne State to provide the inspiration to recover from the miss and make the clutch kicks at the end. Sweet redemption.

Running back Andy Pfeiffer also got some payback on fate. He fumbled at the Mustangs’ 11-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter Saturday, and Southwest turned that turnover into the touchdown that made it 24-10.

Rather than sulk, he regained his composure and scored on a 25-yard run to open the first overtime.

Redemption.

The Mavericks’ defense had given up plenty of yards and big plays throughout the game, then stopped a crucial fourth-and-1 in the second overtime.

More redemption.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com. Follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.

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