The Gustavus football team recorded a 28-7 Homecoming victory over Augsburg College on Saturday in St. Peter. The Gusties rushed for three first quarter touchdowns with a strong wind at their backs to jump out to an early 21-0 victory.
Running back Drew Stifter led the Gustavus ground attack with 142 yards on 27 carries. His 25-yard touchdown carry up the middle on the squad’s first play from scrimmage gave the Gusties an early 7-0 advantage and a lead they would never relinquish.
Fellow running backs Shawn Naber and Adam Nelson each scored first quarter touchdowns on the ground. Naber plunged in from two yards out and Nelson scored on a 12-yard carry on the last play of the first quarter.
Gustavus took advantage of excellent first quarter field position as Augsburg struggled to move the ball against the wind. The Auggies failed to pick up a first down on the game’s opening drive. Nick Schlieman, who led the nation in punting coming into the game, netted only four yards kicking into the wind to give the Gusties the ball at the 25-yard line which set up Stifter’s scoring scamper.
Augsburg failed to cross the 50-yard line until the Auggies got the ball at the Gustavus 33-yard line midway through the second quarter following a short Gustie punt into the wind. The Auggies took six plays to move the ball to the Gustavus six-yard line. On third down and goal, quarterback Tony George’s pass into the endzone was picked off by Matt Diercks who returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown to give Gustavus a 28-0 lead.
Augsburg finally got on the scoreboard when George hooked up with Shaun Johnson for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining in the half. Neither squad was able to crack the scoreboard in the second half, as the halftime score of 28-7 proved to be the final in favor of the Gusties.
Gustie quarterback Sean Smith went 12-for-19 through the air for 101 yards. George was 16-for-43 and threw three interceptions as the Auggies were forced into their passing game while playing catch-up the entire day.
Gustavus out-gained Augsburg 274 yards to 250 yards on the day. The difference was the running game, as the Gusties ran the ball for a season-high 173 yards and held the Auggies to just 97 yards on the ground.
Defensively, Tyler Vrieze led the squad for the third time this year with eight tackles. Isaac Sieling and Loren Havemeier each had interceptions as the Gusties picked off three passes after having only intercepted two passes combined in their first three games of the year.
Gustavus, which improves to 2-2 on the year, 2-1 in the MIAC, will travel to St. John’s next weekend. Augsburg, 2-2, 1-1 in the conference, will host Carleton next Saturday.