The Gustavus Adolphus College football team led 21st-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) for three quarters in its home opener Saturday at Lloyd Hollingsworth Field in St. Peter, but the Thunder scored 14 points in the final quarter for a come-from-behind 23-16 victory. The Gusties held Wheaton to 279 yards of total offense, including only 82 passing yards, while Gustavus was held to only 210 yards of total offense, including 177 passing yards. Gustavus drops to 0-2 overall, while Wheaton moves to 1-0 overall.
The Gusties started strong defensively holding the Wheaton offense to two three-and-outs and an interception on its first three offensive drives. Following the interception, Mitch Anderson took the third play from scrimmage 35 yards for Gustavus’ first rushing touchdown of the season giving the Gusties a 7-0 lead. The Gusties held the Thunder to another three-and-out to end the quarter with Gustavus leading 7-0.
Wheaton received the ball on the Gustavus 29-yard line with 8:03 remaining in the second quarter. After the Thunder gained 20 yards on the drive, the Gusties held strong defensively allowing only a 26-yard field goal by Andrew Day making the score 7-3 Gustavus. Just three minutes later, Wheaton returned a Gustavus punt to the 6-yard line. The Gusties once again held strong defensively pushing the Thunder back four yards and allowing only a 27-yard field goal by Day to pull within one, 7-6. Gustavus ended the first half with a three-play, 53-yard drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Stolp to Tom Johnson giving the Gusties a 13-7 lead at halftime.
The Gustavus defense opened the third quarter forcing a Thunder punt. On the ensuing drive, the Gusties put together an eight-play, 43-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal by Jordan Stolp giving Gustavus a 16-6 lead. The Thunder countered with a nine-play, 77-yard drive that stalled on the three-yard line. For the third time, the Gustie defense held strong in the red zone allowing only a 20-yard field goal by Day cutting the Gustavus lead to 16-9.
Gustavus held its seven-point lead until midway through the fourth quarter. The Thunder tied the score at 16-16 on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Chupp to Joe Chupp. After Wheaton stymied the Gusties on their next possession, the Thunder took the lead for good when Luke Bazacas scored on a nine-yard run making the score 23-16 with 4:38 remaining. Gustavus, which struggled to gain any offensive yardage in the fourth quarter, was turned away on three straight plays, and Wheaton ran out the clock to claim the 23-16 non-conference victory.
The Gusties were led offensively by quarterback Jordan Stolp with 169 passing yards and one touchdown, while Luke Bazacas led the Thunder offensively rushing 28 times for 127 yards and one touchdown. Tom Johnson led Gustavus’ receiving corps with four receptions for 35 yards and one touchdown, while Joe Chupp led Wheaton’s receivers with two receptions for 22 yards and one touchdown.
Jared Sieling led the Gustavus defense with 13 tackles while teammate Adam Miron made nine tackles and Kory Wermerskirchen added eight. Mike McKinney, Jonathan Toal, and Jeff Grandy each contributed nine tackles for Wheaton, while Trey Andrew added two sacks. The Gusties also had four interceptions and one fumble.
The Gusties, who are now 0-2 on the season, will face Hamline University in Saint Paul next Saturday, September 17 at 1 p.m. to open MIAC play.