Minnesota State Mankato was even more impressive than its No. 6 ranking Saturday.
The Mavericks were dominant in all facets of the game in routing No. 7 Sioux Falls (S.D.) 44-3 on the road. The victory gives the Mavericks at least a share of their third consecutive NSIC championship.
Sophomore quarterback Nick Pieruccini completed 21 of 27 passes for a career-high 374 yards and three TDs and also ran for two scores. Junior wide receiver Brent Esser caught 10 passes for 165 yards and one score.
The Mavericks (9-1, 9-1 NSIC) had 297 yards of offense in the first half while building a 27-0 lead. They wound up with 503 total yards.
Luke Papilion, who has been enjoying a stellar junior season for Sioux Falls (8-2, 8-2), was under heavy pressure all day long. He only connected on 21 of 43 passes for 165 yards with three interceptions. He also was sacked twice.
Minnesota Duluth 14, Bemidji State 9: Missing their top two offensive weapons, the No. 23-ranked Bulldogs relied on their defense to beat the Beavers. Junior strong safety Tavaughn Blair intercepted a pas to set up the first touchdown while sophomore linebacker Zach Bassuener recovered a fumble with the Beavers in punt formation to set up the second touchdown for the Bulldogs. Junior quarterback Drew Bauer and senior running back Logan Lauters suffered season-ending injuries last week. Bemidji State only had 181 yards of offense.
Augustana 35, Winona State 34: Junior quarterback Trey Heid fought off a would-be sack and tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Hayes as time expired, giving the Vikings a victory over the host Warriors. The touchdown capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive in the final 1 minute, 34 seconds. C.J. Ham ran for three TDs for the Vikings while Heid, a Lakeville North product, threw for two.
Minnesota State Moorhead 37, Mary (N.D.) 0: Kayne Griffith (72 yards) and Preston Prince (64 yards) broke loose for long TD runs in the first 5 minutes, 7 seconds and the host Dragons shut out the Marauders. The Dragons limited Mary to six first downs and 2 yards rushing.
Southwest Minnesota State 48, Concordia (St. Paul) 24: The Mustangs tied the school record for victories in season, picking up their seventh in defeating the host Golden Bears. Blake Gimbel completed 25 of 35 passes for 243 yards and three TDs and also ran for a score for Southwest Minnesota State.
Northern State 31, St. Cloud State 24: Kyle Lavand threw four TD passes, the last a 40 yarder to junior Taylor Houchin with 4 minutes, 18 seconds remaining, as the Wolves rallied past the host Huskies.
Minnesota-Crookston 45, Minot State (N.D.) 14: Dre Person ran for 215 yards on 22 carries and four TDs as the host Golden Eagles beat the Beavers for their first victory of the season.
Upper Iowa 34, Wayne State (Neb.) 31 (2 OT): Brady Beuschel's 30-yard field goal in the second overtime was the difference in the Peacocks' victory over the host Wildcats.
St. Scholastica 40, Greenville (Ill.) 19: Kyle Stepka threw five touchdown passes as the Saints downed the Panthers.