The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 8, 2009

MSU unbeaten no more in football

ST. CLOUD — Looking to complete a perfect the season, the fourth-ranked Minnesota State football team hardly played a perfect game Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium.

In a stunning, 26-21 loss to arch-rival St. Cloud State — their first defeat of the season — the Mavericks committed four turnovers, gave up four sacks and allowed a 95-yard, game-winning touchdown drive over the final five minutes.

“We beat ourselves; that’s the way I look at it,” said freshman running back Jake Aberg, who was the game’s top rusher with 148 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. “We turned over the ball in the red zone. We couldn’t get going when we needed to. St. Cloud played us fantastic.”

Minnesota State, which finished the regular season with a 10-1 record (9-1 in NSIC) not only lost the Traveling Training Kit, which goes to the winner of the Mavericks-Huskies game each season, but lost a share of the NSIC title and, quite likely, a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament, which begins next weekend.

“This will be very humbling,” MSU coach Todd Hoffner said. “We have to regroup and play hard.”

Postseason brackets will be unveiled today, and, according to Hoffner, the Mavericks likely will play a first-round game at home on Saturday.

“This shows that we’re not invincible,” said running back Julian Phipps, who had 100 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. “Coach tells us that all the time, but we got it served to us on a platter today.”

The Mavericks trailed for much of the first half and the third quarter before an Aberg 7-yard touchdown run and a Sam Brockshus extra-point kick gave them a 21-20 lead on the second play of the fourth quarter.

But they couldn’t close the game or the unbeaten season.

Aberg fumbled on the Mavericks’ next possession, and, later, a 10-play drive stalled at the 29-yard line after quarterback Steve Pachan left the game with a leg injury. A pooch punt was downed at the 5-yard-line with 5:15 to play.

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