Gustavus welcomes fans to Lloyd Hollingsworth Field on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College for this Saturday’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match-up between the Golden Gusties and the Johnnies of Saint John’s University. The Gusties enter the game with an overall record of 1-5 and a MIAC mark of 1-3 after falling to Bethel 41-27 last weekend in St. Peter. Saint John’s is coming off of its bye week with an overall record of 2–4 and a MIAC mark of 1-3.
Both the Gusties and Johnnies will try to use a win today to set the tone for the remaining three games of the season. While both storied MIAC programs have waved goodbye to playoff hopes, it is all about pride at this point. Gustavus is trying to avoid its third consecutive losing season, while Saint John’s looks to prevent going winless in its fourth-straight contest, something the Johnnies haven’t done since 1956 when they went 0-4-1 to finish the season.
Saturday’s game marks the 78th meeting between Gustavus and Saint John’s on the gridiron. Saint John’s holds the advantage in the all-time series with a record of 43-31-3. The Gusties enter today’s contest looking to snap a 13-game Johnnie win-streak that dates back to 1998. Last season in Collegeville, Saint John’s used a fast start—scoring 13 points in the first quarter, and a strong finish—capping the game with 14 points in the fourth, on its way to a 33-13 victory. The Johnnies gained a total of 507 yards, 368 of which came on the ground. Running back Nick Schneider carried the load, rushing 14 times for 179 yards (12.8 ypr). Logan Becker was held to just 112 yards passing, going 10-for-24 through the air.
Meet The Head Coaches
Gustavus Head Coach Peter Haugen is in his third season at the helm of the Gustavus football team. Haugen has compiled a record of 9-17 in his two-plus seasons as the head coach of the Gusties. A graduate of Bethel University, Haugen was the head coach at Washburn High School prior to coming to Gustavus. Coach John Gagliardi is in his 59th season at the head of the Saint John’s football program. With an overall record of 480-133-11, Gagliardi is the winningest coach in college football history. A 1949 graduate of Colorado College, he began his coaching career at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. before taking the job at Saint John’s in 1953.
Watch and Listen
About The Game
Scouting The Gusties
Although it may have not have looked like it on the scoreboard when the clock read 0:00, the Gustavus football team certainly had a shot at picking off the ninth-ranked Bethel Royals last weekend in St. Peter. A 34-yard field goal by Gustavus kicker Tom Huepenbecker at the start of the third quarter tied the game at 20-20, capping a 17-point Gustavus comeback. Bethel answered with two touchdowns to take a 34-20 lead, however, the Gusties battled back, scoring on a 68-yard touchdown reception by Andre Creighton to cut the lead to 34-27. The Royals orchestrated a seven-play, 52-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession to put the game out of reach and avoid the upset on the road.
Bethel gained a total of 458 yards compared to Gustavus’ 306 in the game. The Gusties went 4-for-4 in red-zone scoring chances, yet were just 3-of-12 on third-down conversions. Logan Becker was 18-for-26 for 208 yards with a touchdown through the air, while Phillip Butler scored two rushing touchdowns and led the team with 47 yards on the ground. Andre Creighton turned in his biggest game of the year with five catches for 91 yards, and Muresuk Mena tallied four grabs for 61 yards.
The Gusties enter the game with the fourth-ranked rushing offense in the league, averaging 169.4 yards per game. Gustavus will look to get its running game back on track this week against a Johnnie defense that enters the game ranked ninth in rushing defense, allowing an average of 208.7 yards per game. Saint John’s has had Gustavus’ number between the tackles as of late however, allowing an average of just 56 yards rushing per contest in the last five meetings.
Consistency on offense and defense, along with taking care of the football will be key facets of the game for Gustavus this afternoon. Although they have shown glimpses of potential on both sides of the ball this season, turnovers and big plays have plagued the Gusties and have overshadowed the positives. With two home games remaining on the schedule, today’s seniors are presented with the best opportunity in their four years to end a 13-game drought against the Johnnies.
Scouting The Johnnies
The Saint John’s football team will look to use its bye week as a jump start for the remainder of the season, entering today’s game in the midst of a three-game losing-streak. The Johnnies were most recently in action on Oct. 8, falling to Bethel 41-20 in Collegeville, Minn.
Saint John’s is scoring 23.2 points per game and is averaging 331.0 yards of total offense this season. Both the passing and ground games have experienced their share of inconsistency. The Johnnies threw for a season-high 315 yards against Augsburg three weeks ago, yet were held to just 99 yards through the air against Bethel. The rushing attack, which got on track with 185 yards against Bethel, was limited to less than 100 yards by both Augsburg (93 yds.) and St. Thomas (57 yds.) the previous two weeks.
Junior quarterback Ben Krebsbach gets the nod at signal caller today, making his fourth appearance and second straight start. Krebsbach is 11-for-25 for 131 yards with one touchdown and an interception this season. Brent Graboski (25-239 yds), Taylor Freetly (18-252 yds.), and Nick Schneider (14-268 yds.) lead the way receiving, while Stephen Johnson is the squad’s rushing leader with 386 yards on 83 carries.
Defensively, Saint John’s is giving up an average of 213.8 yards per game passing (8th/MIAC) and has let in a league-high 15 throwing touchdowns. Outside linebacker Jake King leads the team with 44 tackles (24 solo, 20 asst.). The Johnnie defense seeks improvement on third down today, entering the game with an opponent third down conversion rate of 51.8 percent.