By Chad Courrier
---- — MANKATO — It's likely the first time in Minnesota State football history that a quarterback has had a touchdown rushing, passing and receiving in the same game, and Jon Wolf did that all in the first quarter.
Saturday was the kind of game where the Mavericks could have some fun and experiment, and Wolf was able to show off his considerable skills.
"He's not going to be somebody who's going to have the best stats," coach Aaron Keen said. "Some of the teams in this league make a big investment offensively, and there are a lot of quarterbacks who throw it all over.
"I believe Jon is the best quarterback in the league, as far as being able to do things with his feet and do things with his arm, and his leadership has been great. In the end, you want to be the quarterback who's winning games and competing for national championships."
The No. 1-ranked Mavericks dominated Wayne State 45-3 in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football game Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium. It's the 20th consecutive regular-season victory for the Mavericks and third straight impressive win, outscoring Southwest Minnesota State, Winona State and Wayne State 141-40.
"For the third straight week, our preparation was very good, and we trusted in the process," Keen said. "We're playing with a great deal of emotion and passion, and on top of that, we've had great execution. It's something special to build on."
At halftime, Wolf had 289 yards of offense, with 111 yards rushing, 132 yards passing and 46 yards receiving.
On the first drive, Wolf scored on a 50-yard run, deftly making the right call on the read option and sprinting down the sideline, cutting back when his blockers caught up. On the next possession, Wolf passed perfectly to Austin Rieder, who caught the ball near the goal line to complete the 43-yard scoring play.
"I think this was his best game, as far as the run reads go," Keen said. "I can't think of one that he missed. Jon is an explosive football player.
"In the last two weeks, we've made more of an effort to throw the ball, and his execution on third-and-long was very good. He stands back there and delivers BBs to the receivers."
The Mavericks pulled off a trick play to score the third touchdown. On the first play of the drive, Wolf passed back to Dennis Carter on the left, then Carter passed back to Wolf to the right. Wolf weaved his way through the defense and ran into the end zone for a 21-0 lead after seven minutes.
"Everybody in the huddle was like `let's go' and all jacked up when we called that play," Wolf said. "We ran it in practice against our defense, and they said we wouldn't score, but we had five blockers out there against 2 defenders. I just cut back; we knew it would work."
Wolf added a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and Sam Brockshus, who missed a 24-yard attempt two minutes earlier, hit from 36 yards on the final play of the half for a 31-0 lead.
The second half started with an eight-play drive that featured seven runs by Connor Thomas, with the final one covering 5 yards for the score.
After Wayne State scored on a field goal, the Mavericks added a fourth-quarter touchdown on Chad Zastrow's 2-yard run.
The Mavericks accumulated 456 yards of offense, with 251 yards coming on 40 rushes. Wolf had 111 yards rushing, 159 yards passing and 46 yards receiving for 316 total yards. Thomas added 77 yards rushing.
The defense held Wayne State to 176 yards on 61 plays, with 49 yards rushing. The Mavericks made two more interceptions, by Kelend Smith and Patrick Schmidt, bringing the season total to 19.
"As a team, we played well in all three phases," said cornerback Justin Otto, who had a team-best 10 tackles. "But I still feel like we need to improve.
"We held them under 200 yards, which is good, but we set high standards. We want to keep getting better.
Minnesota State (9-0) finishes the regular season with two road games. The Mavericks play at Sioux Falls on Saturday, then play at Upper Iowa the following week.
"The biggest challenge we had today was that we were coming off two very good performances, and we needed to match that effort or do better, and I think we did," Keen said."