As the Mavericks took a quick 10-0 lead, Swensen predicted a close game even though he thought the Valdosta team didn’t look as fired up as the team MSU played last week.
“I’m going with 17 to 14 and MSU might win,” he said. “Valdosta looks cold. You can just see it in their psyche.”
Daryl Woodward, a former player for the Mavericks, wasn’t making any predictions as the sun was setting, the game was wearing on and that lead turned into a deficit that kept getting bigger. The former offensive guard from the early 90s said it was only the third game he had been to during the past 20 years.
One of those games was two weeks ago and the other was a homecoming game he doesn’t remember. Woodward’s predicting the Mavericks’ undefeated regular season and serious playoff run will bring him, and other fickle fans, back more often.
A bonus Saturday was the tailgating atmosphere that greeted him in the parking lot, he said.
“This is great,” Woodward said as he surveyed the packed stands on MSU’s side of the field. “It takes it back to the old NCC days, back when North Dakota and North Dakota State used to come to town. I know a lot of people who were going to be up here at 9 a.m. starting the charcoal in their grills.”
The weather wasn’t the factor MSU fans hoped it would be. At the end of the game, it was the Mavericks’ kicker who looked chilly. He missed an extra point and a short field goal that threatened to change the momentum of the game.
It turns out Valdosta also had a big-name Minnesota player on the sidelines keeping them fired up. Larry Dean, a special teams standout and backup linebacker for the Vikings, set the school record for tackles at Valdosta a couple years ago. He’s a Vikings free agent who has made the Pro Bowl ballot both years he’s played with the team.
“Most of these guys played with him,” Frocks said. “He’s a real local hero to these guys. They always looked up to him because of his work ethic.”
Valdosta will be the team traveling to Alabama next Saturday, which Matthews pointed out will be much easier trip for him for more than one reason. The Mavericks lost 35-19.