area college update
GAME OF THE WEEK
St. Thomas (4-1, 2-1 MIAC) at Bethel (5-0, 3-0), 1:10 p.m. Saturday
The Tommies, who are ranked No. 9 in the d3football.com poll, overcame an injury to QB Matt O'Connell in a 20-12 victory at Gustavus last week. Bethel, ranked No. 5 after defeating previously unbeaten Augsburg and Concordia-Moorhead the past two weeks, raced to a 28-0 lead en route to a 45-22 victory over the Cobbers. A year ago, the Tommies and Royals were undefeated going into their matchup in Week 6. St. Thomas won 37-0.
WEEK 7 STORY LINES
Top spot: Minnesota State Mankato is ranked No. 1 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll for the first time in school history. The Mavericks moved up from No. 2 this week after defending Division II champion Valdosta State lost to West Alabama 49-30. The Mavericks (6-0) have won 17 consecutive regular-season games.
Improved defense: One of the keys to St. John's 5-1 start this season has been the Johnnies' improved defense. After giving up 263 points (26.3 per game) last season, St. John's has allowed only 98 points (16.3) in six games this season. The Johnnies have forced 20 turnovers — just one fewer than in 10 games last season — and are a plus-8 in turnovers. The Johnnies forced seven turnovers by Augsburg last Saturday.
Tough region: Four MIAC teams and three WIAC teams are ranked in the current d3football.com Top 25. Besides Bethel and St. Thomas, other ranked MIAC teams are Concordia-Moorhead at No. 24 and St. John's at No. 25. The three ranked WIAC teams are Wisconsin-Platteville (No. 7), Wisconsin-Oshkosh (No. 8) and Wisconsin-Whitewater (No. 10).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jake Hodge, QB, MSU Moorhead: The 6-1 sophomore from Kasson, Minn., passed for a school-record 472 yards in the Dragons' 69-45 loss to Minnesota Duluth. He completed 31 of 45 passes with five TD passes. Hodge leads the NSIC in total offense with 349.6 yards per game.
Erik Peterson, QB, Bethel: The 6-1 junior from Orono leads the MIAC with 260.4 passing yards per game. Peterson has completed 70.7 percent of his passes and has been intercepted just twice in 140 attempts.
BY THE NUMBERS
203 Rushing yards by Crown freshman Duran Zachery in the Storm's 34-31 OT victory at Iowa Wesleyan. Zachery, who had rushed for 88 yards in the Storm's first five games, scored three TDs, including the game-winner in OT.
501 Yards of total offense for Southwest Minnesota State in a 55-16 victory over Wayne State. It was the fourth consecutive game that the Mustangs have had 500 yards or more on offense. They are fifth in Division II in total offense.
1,304 Yards in total offense for Minnesota Duluth (619) and MSU Moorhead (685) in UMD's 69-45 victory over the host Dragons last Saturday.