The Gustavus football team used a three-yard touchdown run from Adam Lukes (Sr., Watertown, Minn.) late in the fourth quarter to defeat Hamline University 21-14 for the program’s 450th win at Hollingsworth Field in St. Peter on Saturday afternoon. The Gusties outgained the Pipers 339-218, but Hamline forced four interceptions, including three in the third quarter, to stay close in the MIAC opener for both schools. Head coach Jay Schoenebeck’s squad improved to 2-0-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the league, while the Pipers fell to 1-1-0 overall and 0-1-0 in conference play.
The Gustie offense appeared to be headed into the end zone on their first possession of the contest before Jordan Becker (Jr., Easton, Minn.) was picked off in the end zone by Hamline’s Peter Usset. Two plays later, Gustavus put six points on the scoreboard after Ethan Armstrong (Sr., Wheaton, Minn.) returned a fumble 21 yards for the touchdown. John Ostertag (Sr., Walker, Minn.) tacked on the extra-point attempt to give the Gusties a 7-0 lead with 2:04 remaining in the first quarter.
Both teams battled back and forth in the second quarter as both defenses kept the offenses from scoring. Hamline put together a 10-play, 38-yard drive that lasted nearly five minutes before the Gustie defense forced the Pipers to give up the ball on downs at the Gustavus 28-yard line. The Gusties got into Hamline territory after Becker hit Chad Arlt (Sr., St. Michael, Minn.) with a 43-yard strike at the Hamline 29-yard line. The Pipers tightened up on defense, resulting in a missed 38-yard Gustavus field goal. The Gusties went into intermission leading 7-0.
Cody Sukalski (So., Blue Earth, Minn.) got Gustavus in good field position to start the second half with a 24-yard kickoff return to the Gustie 42-yard line. Becker connected with Cameron Maurer (Jr., Morgan, Minn.) ten plays later on a 21-yard pass in the end zone for the touchdown. Ostertag’s point after attempt gave Gustavus a 14-0 with 9:54 remaining on the clock.
As the Hamline offense struggled to move the ball, the Piper defense gave Hamline the opportunity to get back into the contest when Larry Deeton, Jr. picked off a Becker pass intended for Elliott Herdina (Fy., Blooming Prairie, Minn.) with 7:44 left in the third quarter. Deeton, Jr. returned the interception to the Gustavus 47-yard line.
The Pipers took advantage of the turnover as Hamline quarterback James Leary scored on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line after going 3-of-4 passing for 41 yards during the drive. Derek Johnson converted the point after attempt, cutting the lead to 14-7 in favor of Gustavus.
On the first play of the next possession, Becker threw an interception that was caught by Corey Olson to give Hamline the ball at the Gustavus 36. The Pipers capitalized again with a one-yard Leary touchdown run followed by the extra point to tie the contest at 14-14 with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
Hamline’s defense was not finished, though, as the Pipers intercepted another Becker pass after the kickoff. The Gustavus defense came up big following the turnover. On second-and-nine, the Gustie pass rushers crashed through the Hamline offensive line, forcing Leary to commit an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a ten-yard penalty and a loss of down. The Pipers were forced to punt two plays later.
Gustavus got back in rhythm on the next drive as the Gusties entered Hamline territory. A four-yard pass to Maurer came up short of reaching the down marker as Gustavus went for it on fourth-and-one. Hamline’s Dante Guther stopped Adam Lukes at the line of scrimmage as the Pipers took over on downs.
The Gusties continued to apply pressure on the quarterback as Leary was sacked twice on the ensuing drive by Paul Stommes (So., Richmond, Minn.) and Mike Fabel (Sr., Cold Spring, Minn.) for a combined loss of five yards.
Both teams punted on consecutive series before Gustavus got the ball with 3:11 remaining in the game. The Gusties looked like they would be forced to punt again as they faced third-and-10 at the Hamline 46-yard line when Becker hit Sukalski on a crossing route for a 20-yard gain and the first down. Gustavus began to chew up the clock as running back Ray Wilson (Sr., Brooklyn Park, Minn.) ran the next three plays for 23 yards, putting the Gusties at the Hamline three-yard line. After a Piper timeout, Adam Lukes received the handoff and ran straight into the end zone untouched for the score. Ostertag added the extra point for a 21-14 Gustavus lead with 1:02 on the clock.
Hamline received a 33-yard kickoff return from Brandon Johnson, who was pushed out-of-bounds at the Hamline 44-yard line. Leary completed an 18-yard pass to Sean Lewis for the first down and to stop the clock. Two plays later, Leary dropped back to pass looking for Lewis again before Ethan Armstrong broke up the pass at the 10-yard line. Hamline gained more yardage before Palma recorded the third Gustie sack of the half with ten seconds left. The Pipers and Leary ran one last play for the end zone, but were unsuccessful as Fabel pressured the quarterback on the throw and Gustavus came away with the 21-14 victory.
Defensively, Tony Palma led Gustavus with 11 tackles, including the key sack in the final Hamline drive. Joe Welch (Jr., Hastings, Minn.) added nine tackles, while Fabel recorded six tackles with two tackles for losses and a sack.
On offense, Chad Arlt caught eight passes for 99 yards and Ray Wilson had 13 rushing attempts for 62 yards, including key yards in the game-winning drive. Jordan Becker was 21-for-35 passing for 228 yards and one touchdown.
Gustavus joins Saint John’s, St. Thomas, Hamline, and Concordia as the only MIAC programs to reach the 450-win plateau. The Gusties’ overall record is 450-304-21.
The Gusties will travel to Collegeville, Minn. to face Saint John’s next Saturday at 1:00 p.m.