Midwestern State's come-from-behind win at West Texas A&M made a big impact on the latest Super Region Four Rankings released Monday afternoon by the NCAA Division II Football Committee.
The Mustangs jumped four places to No. 4 in the rankings and, if the rankings hold when the playoff field is released Sunday, they would host a first round playoff game at Memorial Stadium.
Colorado State-Pueblo (10-0) regained the top ranking followed by Ashland (Ohio) (10-0), Chadron State (Neb.) (8-2), MSU (8-1) and Indianapolis (Ind.) (8-2) while West Texas A&M (8-2) remained in the playoff hunt at No. 6.
If the playoffs started today, Colorado State-Pueblo and Ashland would receive first-round byes while West Texas A&M would travel to Chadron State and Indianapolis would take on MSU in Wichita Falls.
The WT/Chadron State victor would move on to face Ashland (Ohio) while the MSU/Indianapolis winner would play at Colorado State-Pueblo.
Missouri S&T (9-1), Grand Valley State (Mich.) (8-2), New Mexico Highlands (7-3) and Saginaw Valley State (7-3) round out the rankings.
The sprawling, newly formed Super Region Four consists of the Texas-based Lone Star Conference, the Colorado/New Mexico-based Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the Michigan/Ohio-based Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Kentucky/Indiana/Illinois-based Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Midwestern State moved ahead one spot to No. 9 in the latest American Football Coaches' Association Coaches' Top 25 released Monday morning.
The Mustangs claimed their eighth straight win taking a thrilling 52-48 win over West Texas A&M to claim their third Lone Star Conference championship in the last four seasons Saturday night in Canyon.
Midwestern closes out the regular season Saturday afternoon against West Georgia at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
The Mustangs are one of nine Super Region Four teams to receive mention in the poll including an astonishing eight in the top 21. The newly formed region includes the LSC, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (GLIAC), Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).
Colorado State-Pueblo retained its No. 1 ranking moving to 10-0 with a 31-17 win over New Mexico Highlands while No. 5 Ashland kept pace with a 49-21 victory over Tiffin (Ohio).
Grand Valley State (Mich.) jumped ahead four places with a 35-13 win over Wayne State (Mich.) and West Texas A&M fell five spots to No. 17 while No. 19 Indianapolis (Ind.), No. 20 Missouri S&T and No. 21 Chadron State (Neb.) jumped into the poll after claiming impressive wins last weekend.
New Mexico Highlands also continues to receive votes.
MSU has received mention in 81 of the last 82 polls dating back to the 2006 season.
The Midwestern State Mustangs defended their Lone Star Conference Championship last Saturday with a 52-48 win at West Texas A&M, then swept the weekly awards from the Lone Star Conference on Monday.
Senior quarterback Brandon Kelsey, senior linebacker Matt Ellerbrock and true freshman safety Marqui Christian were selected as the Lone Star Conference Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week after their title-winning performance.
Kelsey led the Mustangs to a share of their second consecutive LSC Championship the win over No. 12 West Texas A&M, the first time since 2004 that MSU has won in Canyon. The signal caller for the Mustangs' Pony Express, the 6-2, 212 pound Arlington High grad tallied 348 yards of total offense with his fourth career 200-100 game, going 14-of-22 passing for a career-high 248 yards and rushing 14 times for 100 yards. He rushed for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth in leading the Mustangs to 565 yards of total offense, the second-highest of the season for MSU and the team's fifth 500-yard offensive performance of the year. His 348 yards was the second-best total offense game of his career as the Mustangs also claimed their third LSC title in the last four seasons.
Ellerbrock helped lead the Mustangs defense in the triumph in Canyon to repeat as Lone Star Conference Champions. The 6-2, 230 pounder from North Garland was second on the MSU tackle chart with eight stops, but led the team with 2.5 tackles for losses of nine yards, including a sack of quarterback Dustin Vaughan for eight yards lost, recorded a quarterback hurry, recovered a fumble and led the team with three pass breakups. Ellerbrock's sack of Vaughan was on the Buffs final drive of the game that helped MSU preserve the win for the Mustangs' third LSC Championship during Ellerbrock's four seasons.
Christian, a safety and an outside rusher on the 10th ranked Mustangs punt return team, scooped a muffed punt snap and returned it 18 yards for the game winning touchdown with 55 seconds to play. After both WT punter Kevin Van Voris and teammate Thomas Carper bobbled the ball after the bad snap, the 6-1, 190 true freshman from Spring scooped up the ball and led a parade of Mustangs into the end zone for MSU's second touchdown in the final 2:09 to overcome a 10-point deficit for the win.
It is the first time this season that MSU has swept the league's player of the week awards. Kelsey earned his second player of the week honor this season, while it is the first this season for Ellerbrock and Christian.
The Midwestern State Mustangs posted a team round of 4-over-par 292 and stand fifth after the opening round of The Classic at The Tribute hosted by Texas A&M University at The Tribute Golf Club.
The Mustangs are just five strokes out of the team lead in a tightly bunched top end of the field.
Junior Jeremy LeGuen led the way for MSU, firing a 1-under 71 to sit in a six-way tie for fifth, five strokes out of the lead.
"Jeremy was impressive tee to green," said MSU Coach Jeff Ray. "He kept the ball in play today and had eight or nine birdie chances from 12-to-18 feet."
The Mustangs were also bolstered by the play of sophomore Derek Oland and senior Raine Copeland who each shot a 1-over 73 to end the first round in 15th, while senior Antonio Herran carded a 3-over 76 and redshirt freshman Santiago Gomez put up a 7-over 79.
Freshman Ian Gallager, playing as a medalist, fired a 1-over 73 to join Oland and Copeland.
"Derek and Raine had solid rounds, as did Ian," said Ray. "The wind picked up later in the day and made the conditions more difficult on the last eight holes."
"We did well and we're in a good position to make a run at the title tomorrow."
Division II newcomer McMurry holds the opening round lead at 1-under 287, with Newman (Kan.) two back at 289. Cameron is at 290 and host A&M-Commerce at 291 before the Mustangs in the 13 team tournament.