In one of the more improbable finishes in the history of the Gustavus football program, the Gusties slipped past Concordia 20-19 when Greg Lane took a Concordia kickoff and raced 86 yards for a touchdown with 39 seconds left to play to tie the score at 19-19. Tom Huepenbecker’s extra point gave Gustavus a 20-19 victory. The Gusties did not lead at any point in the game until Lane’s TD in the final minute of play. The win allows the Gusties to snap a three-game losing streak and finish the season at 4-6 overall and 3-5 in the MIAC.
It was a very challenging first half for the Gusties as the offense managed only 38 yards of total offense and only crossed the 50-yard line one time, while the Cobbers compiled 272 yards of total offense and controlled the ball for 21 of the 30 minutes in the first two quarters. Concordia led 9-0 at the intermission.
Early in the third quarter, Gustavus linebacker Zach Lundquist recovered a Concordia fumble at the Cobber 16-yard line. Four plays later, the Gusties scored on a 7-yard run by Jordan Becker. Huepenbecker’s point after attempt was good and Gustavus trailed 9-7.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Gustavus fumbled on its own 12-yard line and the Cobbers picked up the fumble and ran in for the touchdown. The extra point was good and Concordia led 16-7.
Midway through the fourth quarter, on a third-and-four from Gustavus 41-yard line, Jordan Becker broke free for a 59-yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked and the Gusties were back with three points at 16-13.
The Cobbers countered with a 14-play, 59-yard drive that consumed 7:28 and resulted in a Carl Hauser field goal that gave Concordia a 19-13 lead with 54 seconds left on the clock. The Gustie defense came up big late in the drive limiting the Cobbers to a field goal after Concordia had a first-and-goal at the five-yard line.
On the ensuing kickoff, Greg Lane grabbed Carl Hauser’s kick at the 14-yard line and got around the corner on the Cobber kick coverage and picked up some key blocks on his way to an 86-yard return for the touchdown. It is the second kick return for a touchdown in Lane’s career as he registered a 99-yard TD return against Carleton on Nov. 10, 2007. It is also the second time a Gustie player has returned a kick for a touchdown this season as Joe Welch took a kick 87 yards for a touchdown against Carleton on Oct. 17.
Senior linebacker Tony Palma wrapped up his career in style as he set the school record for tackles in a game with 24. Palma registered 8 solo tackles and 16 assisted tackles. The previous mark was 21 held by Isaac Sieling, which he did twice in his career. Palma also became only the 14th player at Gustavus to record 100 tackles in a season as he finished with 46 solos and 62 assists for 108 tackles. In addition, Palma finished the season ranked first in the MIAC in tackles in conference games with 93 (11.6 tackles per game).
It was a fitting conclusion to a season that has seen Coach Pete Haugen’s squad play six games that were decided in the final minute of play. The Gusties posted a mark of 4-2 in the six games defeating Hamline 30-24 in two overtimes, Pacific Lutheran 34-33 on a Elliot Herdina touchdown catch with 12 seconds left, Carleton 28-21 on a Herdina touchown catch with 14 seconds left and the Cobbers 20-19 with Lane’s return with 39 seconds remaining.
Gustavus completed the season in a four-way tie for fourth place in the MIAC standings with a mark of 3-5.