The Gustavus football team will host Azusa Pacific University in a non-conference matchup on Saturday, November 1 in St. Peter. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 pm at Lloyd Hollingsworth Field.
The Gusties enter the game with a record of 4-4 while the Cougars are 7-1 on the season. Last week Gustavus knocked off Hamline 28-7 while Azusa Pacific thumped La Verne 42-0 for a homecoming victory. Azusa Pacific, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), is ranked ninth in the country.
A Glimpse of the Gusties:Gustavus evened its season record at 4-4 with a 28-7 victory over Hamline last weekend. The Gusties registered three scoring plays of 54 yards or more and sacked the Piper quarterback eight times on their way to the 21-point win. Gustavus struck first when defensive back Loren Havemeier returned a punt 79 yards for a score midway through the first quarter. Two drives later, running back Jerry Millan broke through the middle of the Hamline defense and scampered 54 yards for his first collegiate score to give the Gusties a 14-0 lead. After the Pipers scored minutes before halftime to cut the Gustavus lead in half, quarterback Sean Smith hooked up with wide receiver Nate Novak for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the third period to put the Gusties back up by two touchdowns. The Gustavus defense capped off the day’s scoring when Jay Frederickson picked off an errant Hamline pass and returned it 54 yards for a score. Adam Nelson led the Gustavus ground attack with 106 yards on 16 carries. Milan complemented him with 92 yards rushing on just 11 carries. Both of the totals were career highs for the Gustie running backs.
Coach Schoenebeck’s squad has now won four of its last six games and is hoping to put the finishing touches over the next two weeks on its seventh straight winning season. Sean Smith continues to put up solid numbers. Last week on a blustery afternoon he was 14-of-21 through the air for 118 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Smith has thrown for 1,548 yards this season while completing 63.8 percent of his passes. He has spread the ball around as seven different Gusties have at least 10 receptions apiece this year. After last week’s eight-sack performance, the Gustavus defense now has 29 sacks on the year, two shy of last season’s total.
A View of the Cougars:Azusa Pacific has played its season trying to resolve unfinished business. Last fall the Cougars went 9-1, their only loss to the fifth ranked team in the nation, and finished the year ranked 16th in the national poll. After a season-ending victory over Gustavus, Azusa Pacific felt as if it was poised to make the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Instead the Cougars were snubbed by the selection committee and their season came to an unexpected halt. Eighteen starters are back, 10 on defense and eight on offense, for Coach Peter Shinnick. So far, Azusa Pacific has turned their disappointment from last year into success. The Cougars’ only setback was a 21-7 loss at Humboldt State, a NCAA Division II school.
The squad is led offensively by running back Ben Buys who has racked up 996 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns through seven games. The sophomore has amassed 1,851 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing in his 17-game career with the Cougars. Buys is on pace to shatter the school’s rushing and scoring records held by Christian Okoye. Last week Buys scored four first-half touchdowns in the squad’s first shutout in 41 games.
Defensively, the Cougars are allowing just over 12 points per game while holding their foes to 2.5 yards per rush. Azusa Pacific is plus 11 in the turnover category. Linebacker Steve Holte has tallied a team-high 46 tackles while defensive end Nick Tavaglione has registered seven sacks. The Cougars have forced 19 turnovers this season.
Series: This will be only the second meeting between the two schools with Azusa Pacific holding a 1-0 edge. Last year the Gusties fell to the Cougars 20-14 in Azusa in both squads’ season finale.
Coaches: Gustavus Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck (’80) is in his tenth season coaching the Gusties. He has compiled an overall record of 52-46 and his squads are 47-40 against Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponents. Azusa Pacific is guided by Peter Shinnick who is in his fifth season with the Cougars. His squads have a mark of 34-14 and have been ranked in the NAIA national poll four of his five years with the team. Shinnick was the offensive coordinator from 1995 to 1997 at St. Cloud State University. He then coached one year at Humboldt State before landing at Azusa Pacific.
West to Midwest: This matchup marks the first time Azusa Pacific has played in the state of Minnesota and is the first time a California school has played football at Gustavus. The Gusties have not lost to an-out-of state opponent at home since 1995 when Central (IA) defeated Gustavus 44-17.
Havemeier Makes History: Sophomore defensive back and punt returner Loren Havemeier set the school record for most punt return yards in a game last week by returning two punts for a total of 95 yards. He picked up the majority of those yards on his first return that he took back 79 yards for a touchdown. It was the second longest punt return in the history of the program, behind Buster West’s 88-yard return against Concordia 1969. While Gustavus has returned blocked punts for touchdowns the last few seasons, Havemeier’s run last Saturday was the Gusties first true punt return for a touchdown since Schultze returned a punt 72 yards for a score against Hamline on October 31, 1998.
Home Field Advantage: Gustavus has outscored its last three home opponents 77-14. Coach Schoenebeck’s squad is 9-3 in its last 12 home games. The Gusties close out the year with three straight home games for the first time since 1946.
One-Two Punch: Last Saturday marked the first time in four seasons that Gustavus had two running backs rush for over 90 yards in the same game. Adam Nelson gained a team-high 106 yards while Jerry Milan added 92 yards. The last time two players gained more than 90 yards on the ground while wearing Gustie uniforms was October 9, 1999 when Ryan Britz (103) and Travis Prunty (95) accomplished the feat against Augsburg.
Pick Six: Jay Frederickson’s 54-yard interception return for a touchdown was the Gusties second interception return for a touchdown. Gustavus has now had two interceptions returned for a score each of the last two seasons. The only other year the Gusties had multiple interception returns for touchdowns since 1985 was in 1997 when they had two. In 1985 Gustavus returned an amazing nine interceptions for touchdowns.
Battling Elements: All four of the Gusties’ road games this season have been played in near-perfect conditions weather-wise and all four of their first home games have been played in average to poor conditions. This week’s game appears to follow the trend. Saturday afternoon’s forecast for the St. Peter area calls for a high temperature in the upper 30s with a 40 percent chance of light rain or snow. Azusa Pacific has only played one game in its 39-year history when the temperature was below 50 degrees and has never played a game in the snow.
Radio: Saturday’s game will be broadcast by 1310 AM KRBI. Fans can also catch the action on the Gustavus athletic web site by clicking here. Clay Kepner will provide the play-by-play coverage with Ken Ericson providing the color commentary.
|22.0||Points Per Game||25.6|
|143||Opp. First Downs||115|
|115.1||Rushing Yards Per Game||208.4|
|146.4||Opp. Rushing Yards Per Game||82.0|
|3.0||Rushing Average Per Carry||4.7|
|3.7||Opp. Rushing Average Per Carry||2.5|
|8||Opp. Rushing Touchdowns||6|
|194.4||Passing Yards Per Game||126.0|
|164.8||Opp. Passing Yards Per Game||210.1|
|9.8||Yards Per Catch||14.2|
|10.5||Opp. Yards Per Catch||11.0|
|52.5||Opp. Completion Percentage||51.0|
|10||Opp. Passing Touchdowns||6|
|10||Opp. Interceptions Thrown||9|
|309.5||Total Offense Per Game||334.4|
|311.1||Opp. Total Offense Per Game||292.1|
|4.4||Total Offense Per Play||5.2|
|4.5||Opp. Total Offense Per Play||4.2|
|31:21||Time of Possession Per Game||30:57|
|28:39||Opp. Time of Possession Per Game||29:03|