The Gustavus football team blanked St. Thomas 21-0 on a soggy Saturday afternoon in St. Peter behind two Drew Stifter touchdown runs. The Gusties improved to 3-3 on the season with the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory. The Tommies fell to 3-3.
Gustavus took advantage of six St. Thomas turnovers to record its first shutout over the Tommies since 1980. The Gusties had a 39 to 21 minute edge in time of possession and outgained St. Thomas 291 to 149 yards.
The Gusties scored touchdowns on two of their first three possessions to take a 14-0 lead through one quarter. Gustavus got on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter when Stifter capped off a 13-play, 62-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown plunge. Six minutes later Sean Smith connected with Kory Wermerskirchen for a three-yard touchdown toss to give the Gusties a two-touchdown advantage. Stifter tacked on a 10-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to cap off the day’s scoring.
Gustavus benefited from having St. Thomas backed up in its own territory for much of the game. The Gusties average starting field position was their own 44-yard line. The Tommies average starting field position was their own 29-yard line. St. Thomas did not cross midfield until the third quarter.
St. Thomas struggled to hold onto the ball on a day in which a steady rain fell for much of the game. Tommie quarterback Justin Lockrem completed the day just 5-of-23 through the air with five interceptions, four of which came in the second half while St. Thomas was attempting to get back in the game. Chris Thorson had two of the picks for the Gusties while Loren Havemeier, Greg Baldus, and Tyler Rinquist also came down with interceptions.
Stifter picked up 132 yards on the ground on 35 carries. Smith finished the day 15-of-23 through the air for 159 yards. He found nine difference receivers on the afternoon. Shawn Naber hauled in a team-high three grabs for 29 yards.
Justin Kostner tallied a team-high 49 yards rushing for St. Thomas. The Tommies were just 1-of-12 on third down conversions while the Gusties converted seven of 19 third down opportunities and three of four fourth down opportunities. St. Thomas linebacker Andy Ubbelohde had a game-high 14 tackles.
Gustavus will continue conference play next Saturday at conference-leading Bethel. The Royals defeated St. Olaf 33-7 this week. St. Thomas will host Carleton next week.