The Gustavus Adolphus football team took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 22-yard pass from junior quarterback Jordan Stolp (Mankato, Minn.) to sophomore wide receiver Chad Arlt (St. Michael, Minn.) and then the defense kept the Concordia College out of the end zone for the rest of the game allowing the Gusties to post a 7-0 win over the Cobbers in Moorhead.
The game proved to be a defensive struggle as each offense was held under 180 yards of total offense. The Gustavus defense held Concordia, which entered the game rated 18th in NCAA Division III in rushing offense, to just 87 yards on the ground. The Cobbers had been averaging 217.6 rushing yards per game.
Gustavus made the game’s first big defensive play with 4:18 to play in the first quarter as senior defensive back Neil Petrash (Farmington, Minn.) intercepted a pass thrown by Cobber starting quarterback Jesse Nelson at the Gustavus 40 and returned it to the Concordia 32-yard line, giving the Gusties prime field position. Gustavus wasted little time turning the Cobber miscue into points as Stolp found Arlt for the 22-yard touchdown four plays later.
Stolp’s ensuing kickoff bounced the legs of a Concordia kick returner and was recovered by the Cobbers at their own 5-yard line. The Gustie defense came up with their second big play of the first quarter three plays later as senior linebacker Adam Miron (Princeton, Minn.) forced Cobber running back Ben Thoreson to fumble the ball at the Gustavus 17-yard line following a pass completion. Brian Evans (Sr., Gaylord, Minn.) jumped on the loose ball as the final seconds of the first quarter ticked away.
The Gusties were unable to cash in on the opportunity, though, as a Stolp pass intended for Arlt was intercepted by Concordia’s Levi Pole in the end zone and returned out to the Concordia 30. Keeping the ball on the ground, the Cobbers mounted their first sustained drive of the game, taking the ball to the Gustavus 2-yard line before Nelson was dropped by Alex Murrell (So., Shorewood, Minn.) for an 18-yard loss on a 4th-and-1 play. Four plays earlier, the Cobbers had kept the drive alive as Nelson found Eric Rodel for 10 yards and a first down on a 4th-and 8 play.
The teams traded punts to start the third quarter, but the Gusties began to mount another long drive as the period drew to a close. Gustavus drove the ball to the Concordia 13 before a pair of penalties caused the drive to screech to a halt. A 42-yard field goal attempt by Jordan Stolp on the first play of the fourth quarter was on line, but fell short.
Midway through the quarter, the Gusties again found themselves in the red zone, but Levi Pole made his second interception of the day to end the threat. Starting the ensuing drive at their own 9-yard line, Concordia third-string quarterback Aron Goraczkowski completed a 31-yard pass to Nick Alton on second down to get the Cobbers out to the their own 40. A facemask penalty on Gustavus tacked on five more yards to move the ball out to the Concordia 45, but a pair of incompletions by Goraczkowski and a sack for a loss of 10 yards by Kory Wermerskirchen (Sr., Sartell, Minn.) brought out the Cobber punting unit.
Taking over with 3:05 to play in the game, the Gusties collected a pair of first downs and was able to run out the clock, escaping with a 7-0 victory.
Jordan Stolp led the Gustie offense as he completed 20-of-30 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Chad Arlt grabbed eight passes for 83 yards and Kerry Zajicek (Sr., Glencoe, Minn.) caught six balls for 58 yards. This marks 15 straight games with a catch for Zajicek. Jesse Nelson finished 8-of-14 for 59 yards for Concordia. Eric Rodel led the Cobbers with four catches for 31 yards.
Defensively, Jared Sieling (Jr., Watertown, Minn.) and Neil Petrash each recorded an interception and Kory Wermerskirchen registered two sacks. Seiling’s interception stopped a Cobber drive at the Gustavus 10-yard line late in the first half. Kevin Hegland (Sr., St. Michael, Minn.) finished with a game-high eight tackles (six solo, two asst.), followed by Sieling with 7 (5 solo, 2 asst.). Sieling also had one of Gustavus’ four sacks on the day and moved into fifth place on the school’s all-time tackles list. He needs five tackles pass older brother Isaac (266 tackles, 2001-04) for fourth place on the list. Dave Moll was credited with eight stops (seven solo, one asst.) to lead the Cobbers, while Tom Flynn added 5 tackles and three pass break-ups.
Chad Arlt is quietly putting together one of the best seasons ever by a Gustavus receiver. His 51 catches this season ranks tied for fifth with Chris Swansson (1996) on the all-time single season receptions list, while his 717 receiving yards also ranks sixth. Larry Bodin holds the single-season records for both receptions and receiving yards, making 58 catches for 889 yards in 1985.
The shutout for Gustavus was the first since a 21-0 win over St. Thomas on October 10, 2003.
Gustavus improved to 5-4 overall and 3-4 in the MIAC with the win and will close out the 2006 season on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Carleton.