The Gustavus football team jumped out to a 21-0 lead and then held on for a heart-pounding 24-22 win over Bethel in St. Peter on Saturday afternoon. Bethel blocked a Gustavus punt with 1:58 remaining and recovered the ball on the Gustavus 20-yard line. The Royals, who were trailing 24-20, used a 13-yard run by Phil Porta to pick up a first down at the Gustavus three-yard line with 1:10 left in the game. On the next play however, the Royals fumbled and the Gusties recovered on their own four-yard line. Gustavus took a safety with :10 left in the game and held on for the 24-22 victory.
With 1:11 remaining in the second quarter, the game was halted by lightning. Gustavus was leading 21-0. After a 20-minute delay, the two teams returned to the field. Bethel, which had the ball on the Gustavus 25, scored four plays later, to make the score 21-7 at the half. The teams took a four-minute break for halftime but did not leave the field.
The first half was all Gustavus as quarterback Jordan Stolp completed 11-of-12 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Drew Stifter rushed for 40 yards and running back Mitch Anderson recorded a one-yard touchdown run.
Bethel cut the Gustavus lead to 21-14 on a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ben Wetzell and the extra point by Jason Holmertz with :01 left in the third quarter.
The Gusties opened the fourth quarter with an impressive 13-play, 67-yard drive that used us five minutes on the clock, however the drive ended with Bethel blocking a 24-yard field goal by Jordan Stolp. The Gustavus defense forced the Royals to punt after three plays on the next possession. The Gusties took over on the Bethel 48 and drove to the Royals 15-yard line before Jordan Stolp made a 32-yard field goal to give Gustavus a 24-14 lead. Bethel charged right back driving 80 yards on 9 plays and scoring on a 23-yard run by Phil Porta. The Gusties blocked the extra point giving them an important four-point cushion at 24-20.
Gustavus took possession on its own 36-yard line with 2:59 remaining in the game. On fourth down and 11 from their own 35-yard line, the Gusties Mike Leonard had his punt blocked and Bethel recovered the ball on the Gustavus 20 with 1:58 left in the game. Two plays later, Phil Porta rushed for 13 yards and giving the Royals a first down on the Gustavus six-yard line. On the next play, Bethel fullback Josh Holm fumbled and Gustavus defensive tackle Chris Cornwell recovered on the four-yard line with :59 seconds remaining.
Quarterback Jordan Stolp took the snap and went down to one knee on first down forcing Bethel to call their second timeout of the half. Stolp did the same on the second down and Bethel took its final timeout. Stolp then rushed for two yards on third down and the Gusties let the clock run down to :17 before calling timeout. On fourth down, Stolp took the snap and ran around the end zone before stepping out of the back of the end zone for a safety with :10 left.
Stolp took the Gusties free kick its own 20 and drove it 65 yards to the Bethel 15 where Nate Porter returned it 25 yards to the Bethel 40. The Royals had three seconds to run one final play and a desperation pass by quarterback Wetzell was knocked down giving the Gusties the 24-22 victory.
Top performers for Gustavus included Jordan Stolp completing 20-of-34 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, wide receiver Chad Arlt making three catches for 93 yards, and middle linebacker Adam Miron recording 14 tackles and recovering a fumble.
Top performers for Bethel included Phil Porta rushing 29 times for 154 yards and one touchdown, wide receiver Luke Hanson making five catches for 82 yards, and safety Kirby Carr recording 10 tackles and blocking a punt.
Gustavus, which won three of its last five games, finished with a mark of 3-7 overall and 3-5 in the MIAC. Bethel completed its season with a record of 5-5 overall and 3-5 in the MIAC.