The Gustavus football team was defeated by second-ranked St. John’s 35-13 on Saturday in Collegeville. The Gusties fell to 2-3 on the year while the Johnnies improved to 4-0 with the victory.
St. John’s led the entire game, as the Johnnies’ Blake Elliot returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to give the red and white a lead they would never cough up. Elliot ended the day with 327 all-purpose yards (141 yards on kickoff returns, 113 yards receiving, 47 yards rushing, and 26 yards on punt returns).
Gustavus got on the scoreboard through the air. With Gustavus trailing 14-0 midway through the second quarter with possession of the ball at its own 40-yard line, Sean Smith threw an over-the-shoulder pass to Drew Stifter who slipped out of the backfield to haul in the reception twenty yards downfield. Stifter zig-zagged his way down the rest of the field, all the way into the endzone to complete the 60-yard touchdown play. The extra point attempt by Kase Niles sailed wide right, leaving the Johnnies on top 14-6.
St. John’s tacked on two more touchdowns to take a comfortable 28-6 lead into the halftime lockeroom. Gustavus got within two touchdowns when Smith found Nick Teigland in the back of the endzone for a three-yard touchdown toss. The extra point brought the Gusties with 28-13, but it was the closest they could come to spoiling the Johnnies homecoming. St. John’s answered right back with a nine-play touchdown of its own to cap off the scoring, 35-13.
St. John’s outgained Gustavus 397 yards to 352 yards. The big discrepency was on the ground, where the Johnnies pounded out 157 yards compared to the Gusties who only amassed 32 yards rushing the football.
Smith finished the afternoon 17 of 27 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Teigland caught four balls for 24 yards. Stifter had 38 yards rushing and 67 yards receiving, both team highs. Tyler Rinquist led the defense with 14 tackles including one sack.
St. John’s quarterback Ryan Keating was 26 of 34 through the air with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Besides Elliot, Isaac Flenner was his favorite target as the back-up wide receiver finished the game with seven catches and 60 yards. Flenner was filling in for Jed Riegelman who was injured in the first half after having caught two passes early in the game.
Gustavus had difficulty sustaining drives as the squad was 3 of 14 on third downs. St. John’s ran 73 plays compared to the Gusties who had 58 plays.
The Gusties will attempt to regroup for next Saturday’s home game against St. Thomas at 1:00 pm. The Tommies rallied to defeat St. Olaf 24-9 to improve to 2-3 on the season.