The Gustavus Adolphus College football team opened its 2002 season with a convincing 35-6 non-conference win over Alma College of Michigan. The Gusties, who led 7-3 at halftime, scored 21 points in a four-minute stretch early in the third quarter to seal the victory. The Gustavus defense forced six turnovers in the contest including four interceptions in the second half, while the offense rolled up 390 total yards and scored four touchdowns.
After an evenly played first half, Gustavus set the tempo for the second half when senior running back Andy Traetow (Jackson, Minn.) scampered 21 yards for a touchdown on the fourth play from scrimmage giving the Gusties a 14-3 lead. Following an interception by Gustie defensive end Dan Myers (Jr., Cottage Grove, Minn.) at the Alma 18-yard line on the Scots next series, Gustavus pushed its lead to 21-3 when junior quarterback Sean Smith (Minnetonka, Minn.) snuck in from one yard out four plays later. The Gustie scoring barrage continued when junior cornerback Greg Baldus (Victoria, Minn.) snagged a Steve Slowke pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown on Almas next series making the score 28-3. Alma added a 39-yard field goal by Matt Picirilli (Sr., Mt. Clemens, Mich.) late in the third quarter to make the score 28-6 and then Gustavus closed out the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Sean Smith to Nick Teigland (Sr., Chanhassen, Minn.) early in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Gustavus shut Alma down in the second half limiting the Scots to 130 yards on 36 plays while intercepting four passes. Cornerback Greg Baldus had a big day against the Scot passing attack as he intercepted two passes (returning one for a touchdown), made five tackles and recorded one pass breakup. The Gusties compiled seven tackles for loss on the day including three sacks. Senior rover Brad Arndt (Sr., Woodbury, Minn.) led the team in tackles with eight.
Offensively, the Gusties used a very balanced attack that included 192 yards rushing and 198 yards passing. Quarterback Sean Smith completed 11-of-16 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, while running back Andy Traetow carried 22 times for 103 yards and one td and wide receiver Ryan Hoag (Sr., Minneapolis, Minn.) made seven catches for 100 yards with one touchdown. First year placekicker John Kurhajetz (Willow River, Minn.) made an impressive debut as he connected on five extra points and drove his kickoffs deep into Alma territory.
Alma was led offensively by wide receiver Mark Boehms (Sr., Troy, Mich.) who made ten catches for 103 yards. Senior quarterback Steve Slowke (Macomb, Mich.) completed 16-of-27 passes for 151 yards with three interceptions. Slowke left the game with a rib injury in the middle of the third quarter. His replacement Alan Montgomery (So., Big Rapids, Mich.) completed eight-of-14 passes for 50 yards with one interception. Running back Jeremy Droptiny (Jr., Greenville, Mich.) carried seven times for 53 yards. Defensively, Alma was led by sophomore safety Kevin Vermeersch (Unionville, Mich.) who made 10 tackles. Defensive end John Loveland (Jr., Ypsilanti, Mich.) recorded 7.5 tackles with one sack. Linebacker Scott Barriger (So., Prescott, Mich.) intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble for the Scots. Placekicker Matt Piccirilli provided all the scoring for the Scots as he made a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Gustavus, which is now 1-0, will open MIAC play next week at Concordia-Moorhead, while Alma (0-1) will return home to play a non-conference contest with Wheaton College of Illinois.