The Gustavus Adolphus football team saw its 2006 record evened at 1-1 with a 21-7 loss to St. Thomas Saturday at Hollingsworth Field in St. Peter. The Tommies outgained the Gusties 255-181 overall, including 184-57 on the ground. St. Thomas also forced four Gustavus turnovers in the MIAC opener for both schools.
Neither team was able to mount much offense in the first quarter, combining for 49 yards of total offense. The game started with three consecutive three straight three-and-out possessions, before Gustavus quarterback Jordan Stolp (Jr., Mankato, Minn.) threw the first of four interceptions on the day. The Gustie defense held on the next St. Thomas offensive series, allowing the Tommies only one first down, but the Gustavus offense could not take advantage of a break on its next series. On the third play of the drive, Stolp saw a pass attempt intercepted by Tommy linebacker Pat Sommerstad. The play was negated, though, by a St. Thomas holding penalty, giving the Gusties new life at their own 30-yard line. Gustavus picked up another first down three plays later, but the drive came to a halt as Sommerstad picked off Stolp again at the Gustie 46-yard line.
Taking advantage of the generous field position, the Tommies kept to the ground, embarking on a 9-play, 46-yard drive that ended with Tommy quarterback Ryan Jansen finding fullback Don Jaeger in the flat for a 4-yard touchdown. An Eric Taylor PAT gave St. Thomas a 7-0 lead at the 11:05 mark of the second quarter.
St. Thomas held defensively on the next drive, forcing another Gustavus punt. After being held on a third-and-one play at the Gustavus 44-yard line, the Tommies went for it on fourth down, running Jake Casey up the middle. Casey broke through the line, bounced off a pair of would-be Gustavus tacklers and scampered into the endzone for a 44-yard touchdown to put St. Thomas up 14-0 with 4:38 to play in the first half. The Tommies took the two-touchdown advantage into the locker room as each team picked up a first down on their final possessions of the half but could not muster much else.
With a strong south wind at their back during the third quarter, St. Thomas again decided to keep to the ground. After taking possession of the ball at the Gustie 49-yard line due to a punt with 8:57 to play in the third quarter, the Tommies burned 6:25 off the game clock with a 12-play, 49-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 1-yard run by Ryan Jansen. 10 of the drive’s 12 plays were running plays.
Gustavus would avoid the shutout with a touchdown on the very next drive as Stolp hooked up with wide receiver Chad Arlt (So., St. Michael, Minn.) from 24 yards out to conclude the 10-play, 78-yard drive. After forcing a Tommy punt on the next drive, the Gusties consumed 6:02 on the clock but was only able to move 16 yards on 11 plays. Gustavus regained possession with 3:02 to play, but Matt Anderson stepped in front of a Jordan Stolp pass on the Gusties’ next offensive play for the third Tommy interception of the day. Two plays later, however, Gustavus would get the ball back as Alex Murrell (So., Shorewood, Minn.) stripped the ball from Ryan Jansen’s grasp. Murrell’s effort on defense would not be enough, though, as Stolp fired a pass deep on third-and-11, only to have Matt Anderson pick up his second interception of the quarter. A pair of St. Thomas kneel-downs brought the game to a close.
Jake Casey finished as the game’s leading rusher with 92 yards on 21 carries, followed by Jansen, who scrambled for 62 yards on 13 carries. Mitch Anderson (Jr., Sleepy Eye, Minn.) led the Gusties with 57 yards on 15 carries. Casey doubled as the Tommies’ leading receiver, making a pair of grabs for 25 yards. Chad Arlt caught five balls for 60 yards to lead Gustavus, while Kerry Zajicek (Sr., Glencoe, Minn.) added four catches for 30 yards.
With St. Thomas keeping to the ground, Ryan Jansen had a modest day at quarterback completing nine of 15 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Stolp faced stiff pressure from all areas of the St. Thomas defense and finished the day 14-of-23 for 123 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions and was sacked three times.
Gustavus linebacker Adam Miron (Sr., Princeton, Minn.) led all players defensively with nine tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. Jared Sieling (Sr., Watertown, Minn.), Taylor Beahrs (Sr., North Oaks, Minn.), and Wade Vrieze (Sr., Richfield, Minn.) each made seven stops. Sieling surpassed 200 career tackles Saturday, becoming the 13th player in Gustavus history to reach the milestone. Sieling now has 204 career tackles and needs 11 tackles to pass Tom Franz for 12th place on that list.
Despite only throwing for 123 yards, Jordan Stolp moved into fifth place on the Gustavus career passing yardage list and fell a couple lengths of the football from moving into fourth place. Stolp moved past Sean Smith (4,188 yards) into fifth place, but, with 4,249 career passing yards, trails Dean Kraus (4,250 yards) by a single yard for fourth place.
For the Tommies, it was the 500th win in the program’s 102-yard history. St. Thomas (500-320-34) joins the University of Minnesota (625 wins in 123 years) and Saint John’s (531 in 96 seasons) as schools from the Gopher State in the 500-win club.
Gustavus (1-1, 0-1 MIAC) takes its show on the road next weekend for a MIAC matchup at Hamline, while St. Thomas (2-1, 1-0 MIAC) will take next week off before travelling to Bethel on Sept. 30.