Minnesota Crookston comes into the weekend with a 1-4 mark on the 2018 season.

    The University of Minnesota Crookston football team hits the road Saturday to take on Southwest Minnesota State University at 5 p.m. at Mattke Field at Schwan Regional Event Center in Marshall, Minn. The Mustangs have won the last two meetings between the two schools with Minnesota Crookston’s last win coming with a 33-28 Homecoming victory Sept. 22, 2012.

Previewing the Golden Eagles

    Minnesota Crookston comes into the weekend with a 1-4 mark on the 2018 season. The Golden Eagles are 1-2 in road games coming into Saturday’s tilt with the Mustangs

    The Golden Eagles come into the weekend averaging 236.0 yards of total offense per game with 98.2 yards per contest on the ground and 137.8 yard per game through the air. Starting quarterback Jalin Scott comes into the weekend 42-of-82 for 595 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions. Scott has been a dual-threat option for Minnesota Crookston, rushing for 141 yards and four touchdowns on the year.

    Scott’s top target through the air has been freshman phenom Andy Groebner, who has 14 catches for 299 yards and a touchdown. In addition, junior Jonattan Mudd has been a factor with nine grabs for 146 yards, while 2017 All-NSIC Second Team pick Rod Stewart has nine catches for 126 yards and a touchdown.

    In the ground game, Elijah Todd leads the way with 321 yards on 70 carries for an average of 4.6 yards per carry.

    Defensively, the Golden Eagles are allowing 445.0 yards per game through the first five tilts. The defense has been guided by Ali Alkhatib, who has 38 tackles with five tackles for loss, a sack, and an interception. Safety Will Cole has also been a key player for Minnesota Crookston with 33 tackles and three tackles for loss, while Trevor Long, Jr. has 29 tackles on the season from his safety spot. On the defensive line, Joe Warner has had an instant impact after transferring in from junior college. Warner has 22 tackles with three tackles for loss and a sack. His fellow newcomer on the defensive line, Austin Brown, has 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

    On special teams, freshman Jared McLemore has given the Golden Eagles a weapon in the kicking game. McLemore is 2-of-2 on the season, including a 47-yarder which matches the fourth-longest field goal in school history. At punter, Stephen Day comes in averaging 37.7 yards per punt with seven punts inside the 20 and five punts over 50 yards.

Previewing the Mustangs

    Southwest Minnesota State enters Saturday with a 2-3 mark on the season. The Mustangs are coming off back-to-back wins over Upper Iowa University and University of Mary.

    The Mustang offense enters the weekend averaging 348.4 yards per game, including 268.8 yards per contest through the air and 79.6 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Blake Gimbel is a major passing threat as he is 125-of-207 for 1,325 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season. Gimbel’s top target is Daniel Davis, who has 448 yards on 30 receptions with four touchdowns. In addition, Connor Wilkie comes in with 16 grabs for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Former Mustang basketball star Carter Kirk, has made the move to football this season. At 6-8 he has provided a big target in the passing game for Gimbel. Kirk has 13 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown on 2018.

    In the running game, Max Simmons leads the way with 356 yards on 72 carries with two touchdowns.

    Defensively, Southwest Minnesota State is allowing 418.2 yards per game. They are giving up 240.2 yards per contest through the air and 178.0 yards per game on the ground. Shane Ratkovich leads the team with 55 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Lucas Fisher is the team leader with two interceptions, while Hayden Acker has added 21 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

    In the kicking game, Skyler Crew is 0-of-2 on the season, while punter Austin Wells is averaging 38.3 yards per punt with two inside the 20 and two punts over 50 yards.

The Ties That Bind

    The Golden Eagles and Mustangs have often had several staff ties of people that used to be at the other school. Southwest Minnesota State assistant coach Levi Bullerman is in his first year back at his alma mater after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant coach for Minnesota Crookston. In addition, current Golden Eagle assistant coach Sam Gooding was an assistant coach for the Mustangs in 2017. Several other ties to the school also exist including former Golden Eagle women’s basketball player Brittani Wiese, who is the assistant coach for the women’s basketball program. In addition, Minnesota Crookston alums Jeff Pryor and Sara Wiedmaier were graduate assistants at Southwest Minnesota State, while alum Brooke Timmins was an assistant softball coach. Southwest Minnesota State alum Natasha (Kuhle) Reierson is former Senior Woman’s Administrator at Minnesota Crookston. Those are just a few of the ties that have existed between the programs over the years.

#StingLikeABee

    Ali Alkhatib, might not be the same Ali who floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, but the reining NSIC Defensive Player of the Week does pack a punch. Alkhatib is coming off two great games defensively for the Golden Eagles. Alkhatib leads the defense with 38 tackles, five tackles for loss and an interception. He also has a sack on the season. Alkhatib led Minnesota Crookston with 16 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and an interception against Augustana.

#GreatScott

    Ali Alkhatib, might not be the same Ali who floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, but the reining NSIC Defensive Player of the Week does pack a punch. Alkhatib is coming off two great games defensively for the Golden Eagles. Alkhatib leads the defense with 38 tackles, five tackles for loss and an interception. He also has a sack on the season. Alkhatib led Minnesota Crookston with 16 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and an interception against Augustana.

#GetItToGroebner

    Freshman wide receiver Andy Groebner has been a stand-out through five games for the Golden Eagles. Groebner is averaging 59.8 yards per game through the air. The Andover, Minn. native has 14 catches for 299 yards and a touchdown this season. Groebner will look to be a major target for Jalin Scott as he heads into Saturday against Southwest Minnesota State.

#LongestYard

    Safety Trevor Long, Jr. has been a major player defensive for the Golden Eagles as he has prevented opposing offenses from big plays both in the run game and pass game. Long has 29 tackles this season with one fumble recovery. Long will look to continue to make a major impact as the Golden Eagles come up against the Mustangs this weekend.