SLIPPERY ROCK, PA. – Nate Gunn rushed for three touchdowns and Shane Zylstra caught two touchdown passes to lead No. 4 Minnesota State Mankato to a 58-15 victory over No. 8 Slippery Rock on Saturday in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
The Mavericks (14-0) will play West Florida for the national championship next Saturday in McKinney, Texas. It will be the their second appearance in the championship game. They lost to Colorado State-Pueblo 13-0 in the 2014 championship game.
West Florida (12-2) beat top-seeded Ferris State 28-14 in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Gunn rushed for two touchdowns in the first quarter as the Mavericks built a 16-8 lead. They led 23-8 with two minutes to play in the first half when Tyler Johnson recovered a fumble at the Slippery Rock 20-yard line. On first down, the Mavericks’ Justin Arnold went 20 yards to extend the lead to 29-8.
Slippery Rock (13-1) scored early in the third quarter to pull within 30-15, but the Mavericks responded with three touchdowns in a seven-minute span to open a 51-15 lead.
The Mavericks finished with their sixth game of 50 points or more this season.
Zylstra had four receptions for 152 yards and Kaleb Sleezer contributed a 75-yard TD run for the Mavericks, who outgained Slippery Rock 463 yards to 310 despite running 35 fewer plays.
The Mavericks limited Slippery Rock’s Roland Rivers, who led Division II in passing efficiency going into the game, to 199 yards passing. He had thrown 50 TD passes and passed for 4,261 yards with just six interceptions going into the game.