The Gustavus Adolphus College football team christened its new football stadium with a thrilling 34-25 come-from-behind win over Willamette University in front of a partisan crowd of nearly 4,000 fans. The Gusties trailed 17-13 heading into the fourth quarter, however Jordan Stolp threw two touchdown passes and Mitch Anderson recorded a 12-yard touchdown run to allow Gustavus to post its second consecutive win over Willamette. Chad Arlt had a record breaking day for the Gusties as he made 15 catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Senior linebacker Jared Sieling led the defense with 14 tackles. The Gusties are now 1-0 overall, while Willamette falls to 0-2 on the season.
The Gusties jumped out to a 6-0 when Mitch Anderson rushed in from two yards out with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point attempt was missed. Willamette charged right back and tied the score at 6-6 when Josh Lee caught a four-yard pass from Grant Leslie just two minutes later. The four-play scoring for the Bearcats was highlighted by a 69-yard run by Merben Woo.
The two teams battled through a scoreless second quarter and Willamette took a 7-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Gustavus got off to a quick start in the second half when Ethan Armstrong returned the kickoff 56 yards to the Willamette 33-yard line. The next play, Stolp hit Arlt with a 33-yard touchdown pass. Stolp connected on the extra point giving Gustavus a 13-7 lead. The Bearcats struck right back once again as Leslie completed a 53-yard touchdown pass. Clint Moran converted the extra point and Willamette led 14-13.
Late in the third quarter, Willamette extended its lead to 17-13 when Matt Bicocca made a 41-yard field goal with 5:26 left in the quarter.
Gustavus rallied to take the lead for good when Stolp hit Arlt with a 32-yard TD strike just :09 seconds into the fourth quarter. Stolp’s extra point made the score 20-17. Late in the fourth quarter, the Gusties extended their lead 27-17 when Stolp hit John Retka with a 17-yard touchdown pass with 1:59 left on the clock. Two plays later, Gustavus recovered a Willamette fumble on the Gustavus 12 yard-line. Mitch Anderson romped into the end zone on the next play for his second touchdown of the day making the score 34-17.
The Bearcats pushed the ball down the field quickly and cut the lead to 34-23 with :10 left in the game when quarterback Grant Leslie scored on a 10-yard TD run. Merben Woo ran in the two-point conversion making the final score 34-25.
The Gusties had a big day offensively compiling 457 yards of total offense and scoring five touchdowns. Quarterback Jordan Stolp completed 22-of-42 passes for 296 and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Wide receiver Chad Arlt set the school record for catches in a game with 15. The old mark was 13 held by Ryan Hoag. Arlt nearly broke the school record for yards receiving in a game with 221 yards. The school record is 228 yards held by Rich Ryan.
Defensively, the Gusties were led by Jared Sieling with 14 tackles (seven solo), followed by sophomore linebacker Peter Keegan, who made nine tackles and recovered two fumbles.
It was a very important day in the history of the Gustavus football program as the College dedicated its new football stadium. The $4.6 million dollar project includes 3,500 seats, a three story stadium tower, an artificial surface, and state-of-the-art scoreboard.
The Gusties will now travel to St. Paul next Saturday to play St. Thomas in their MIAC opener.