Reusse: Turns out Georgians were well-fitted for MSU Mankato's chilly welcome

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2012 - 6:41 AM

Valdosta State, freshly geared up for the elements, ended Mankato's dream season.


Valdosta State's Seantavious Jones pulls in a pass ahead of Minnesota State, Mankato's Patrick Schmidt.

Photo: Pat Christman, Associated Press - Mankato Free Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

MANKATO, MINN. - Valdosta, Ga., is a football-crazed city of 55,000 located 20 miles from the Florida border. It was 82 degrees there on Saturday.

That probably explains why the Valdosta State Blazers were not equipped with proper cold-weather gear when they arrived in Minnesota for Saturday's Division II semifinal game against Minnesota State Mankato.

The Blazers did not have warm jackets for the players. What they did have was this connection: Defensive coordinator Seth Wallace's father is the athletic director at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Greg Wallace was planning to attend the game and he brought a collection of red Grinnell jackets with him. These were featured by many of the Blazers on the sideline.

As it turned out, it took a little over a quarter of adjustment for the warm-weather visitors, and then Valdosta quarterback Cayden Cochran triggered a high-octane offense that put up 498 yards in a 35-19 victory over MSU.

This put an end to the Mavericks' unbeaten run at 13 games. That's an outstanding season by any measure, and a remarkable one when you consider the drama that landed in their laps.

Coach Todd Hoffner was led off the field on Aug. 17 and soon accused of having child pornography on a school-issued cell phone. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, prosecutors and the media went nuts. The school placed Hoffner on leave and offensive coordinator Aaron Keen took over as coach.

On it went, for weeks, until a Blue Earth County judge finally threw out the case -- built on the video of Hoffner's young kids and no other evidence -- on Nov. 30.

The response of this group of Mavericks football players was to keep on winning, through 11 games in the regular season, through a pair of playoff games, all the way until Saturday -- when Cochran started dropping sweet passes into the hands of Gerald Ford, Seantavious Jones and Regginald Lewis.

When the best-ever season for MSU was over, Keen paid tribute to his players by saying: "They battled throughout this year and through today. You could see the character of our guys this year, and you saw it again today."

Through the first 18 minutes of play, a substantial and boisterous crowd (announced at 3,356) had to feel as if the Mavericks' season would be ending next Saturday in Florence, Ala., in the Division II title game.

On its second possession, MSU started at its 21 and got as far as Valdosta's 6 before kicking a field goal. On its third possession, MSU went 70 yards, with Jon Wolf throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Adam Thielen.

It was 10-0 and the Mavericks had run 29 plays to six for Valdosta.

And then everything changed. The Blazers had two big drives before the half and led 14-10. Cochran was hitting Ford in medium range over the middle and he was pump-faking and hitting Jones deep. And, he was counting on Lewis' relentless nature to turn a short pass into a big gainer.

This was probably the decisive play of the game: Valdosta, on the first possession of the second half, was facing third-and-3 at MSU's 39. Cochran threw a quick screen to Lewis and two tacklers hit him 2 yards behind the line. They got him to stumble, but Lewis regained his balance and went for 34 yards to MSU's 5.

Soon, it was 21-10 and MSU was chasing uphill the rest of the frigid afternoon.

Cochran comes from Cashion, Okla. He played 8-man football there. He went to Coffeyville [Kan.] Junior College for two years (one a redshirt). He spent a spring semester at Oklahoma, where the Sooners said he was a receiver and he wanted to continue being a quarterback.

In the spring of 2011, his family home in Cashion was destroyed by a tornado. At the same time, Valdosta coach David Dean was looking for a quarterback.

"We went on the Internet and read about Cayden, and got him to make a visit," Dean said. "I even came back from the beach, from vacation, to see him.

"I thought once he learned our system, he was the quarterback to take us where we're now headed."

Which is the D-II title game in Alabama ... a place where borrowed cold-weather jackets should not be required.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Colorado 8:00 PM
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question