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July 25, 2014

With coach cleared of charges, Mankato football team 1 win from title game

It’s been a good two-day stretch for the Minnesota State Mankato football program, as the team drives toward a dramatic ending to an emotional season without its head coach.

On Tuesday, coach Todd Hoffner was cleared of child pornography charges, although he still was unable to coach on Saturday as the university continues its investigation.

So once again, as they have all season, the Mavericks won without their leader on the sideline, advancing Saturday to the NCAA Division II semifinals with a 17-10 win over Missouri Western at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato. Still, Hoffner was on the minds of many in the stadium, the Star Tribune reports.

The victory moved the 13-0 Mavericks to one win away from the NCAA Division II national title game. MSU will play next against Valdosta State on Dec 8. If the team wins, it will play for the title Dec. 15 in Florence, Ala. Here’s the NCAA bracket that got MSU here.

On Saturday, redshirt freshman running back Connor Thomas led the team with 159 yards rushing on 19 attempts. In the fourth quarter, to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive, Thomas had a 12-yard touchdown to give the team the winning score.

Cleared Friday of child pornography charges stemming from a video on his cell phone featuring his naked children, Hoffner called the 102-day chapter in his life a long and painful nightmare.

Hoffner, 46, has been head coach at Mankato since 2008. He was suspended with pay in mid-August after the charges surfaced.