Long

Spencer Long reels off a 40-yard run last week against Colorado Mines.

The No. 7-seeded Texas A&M University-Commerce Lion football team will look to slay a giant for the third week in a row as they take on undefeated No. 1 seed Minnesota State on the road Saturday.

The road-warrior Lions will be in their 10th road playoff game since 2016, which is more than any other team in NCAA Division II.

A&M-Commerce reached the third round of the playoffs after an emphatic 23-3 victory over Colorado School of Mines, with the defense sacking Mines' quarterbacks 10 times, tying a playoff record. The win also improved the Lions to a record of 10-2.

The victory marked the second in a row against an undefeated team following the win over Tarleton State in the playoff-opener. They will face their third-consecutive undefeated team on Saturday.

This will be the second time for the Lions to face the Minnesota State Mavericks. A&M-Commerce won the first game between the two teams 31-21 in the third round of the 2017 playoffs en route to the National Championship.

The Mavericks are 12-0 and are coming off of a 35-7 victory last week over Colorado State-Pueblo, a squad that has beaten the Lions two years in a row, including earlier this season.

Minnesota State has dominated their opponents for much of the season, winning its games by an average margin of victory of 36.4 points, including a stretch late in the season where they won four out of their last five games by more than 50 points. The team's 47.7 points scored per game is the most in the country.

Defensively, the Mavericks are allowing just 12 points per game, which is also the best in all of Division II. However, the Lions are playing their best defense of the entire year, allowing just one touchdown across their previous three games.

Two quarterbacks have shared the load for Minnesota State, as both Ryan Schlichte and J.D. Ekowa have attempted more than 100 passes and have more than 1,000 passing yards on the season. Schlichte has more yards and touchdowns with 1,343 and 15, while Ekowa has 1,136 passing yards and 9 scores.

Nate Gunn is the featured running back, with 1,383 yards and a whopping 23 rushing touchdowns this season, which is third in Division II. Multiple other running backs have contributed to an offense that averages more than 300 yards on the ground per game and has scored 46 rushing touchdowns total.

The defense for the Mavericks, features several ballhawks, as they have intercepted opposing quarterbacks 19 times in 12 games. Cole Schroedermeier leads the team with four picks. Brayden Thomas has been a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line, accumulating nine sacks and 13 tackles for a loss this season, both the most on the team.

Saturday's game between the A&M-Commerce Lions and the Minnesota State Mavericks will be at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato, Minnesota. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

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