The Gustavus football team used two Elliot Herdina second half touchdowns to slip past Coe College 27-19 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday afternoon. The Gustie defense came up with several big plays in crucial situations to limit the Kohawks to four field goals, while not allowing an offensive touchdown in the contest. Herdina, in his first game at Gustavus, rushed three times for 74 yards, including a 68-yard TD scamper, and caught three passes for 40 yards, including a nine-yard TD reception.
The Gusties got off to a solid start in their first game of the season as the defense held Coe to three downs and out on its first possession and then the offense came on the field and put together a eight-play, 61-yard drive that ended in a one-yard Jordan Becker touchdown run. John Ostertag added the point after attempt to give Gustavus a 7-0 lead. The big play of the drive was a 40-yard pass from Becker to Chad Arlt that moved the ball to the Coe 15-yard line.
Late in the first quarter, Coe would score its lone touchdown of the game when Matthew Walter blocked a Gustavus punt by Matt Knutson, while Ross Yeast picked up the ball and ran 22 yards for a touchdown for the Kohawks. Coe converted the point after attempt to tie the score at 7-7.
The Gustie offense struck right back as Cody Sukalski returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to the Coe 24 yard line. Three plays later, Becker hit Sukalski on a slant pattern, that Sukalski ran in 29 yards for a TD. The point after attempt was missed and the Gusties led 13-7.
The Coe offense looked to be driving for a score on its next possession when Gustavus linebacker Paul Stommes sprinted around left end and tackled Kohawk running back Michael Rozum for a one-yard loss on a third-and-one at the Gustavus 21-yard line. Coe attempted a field goal from 38 yards out that was missed wide right.
Two possessions later, Coe would put together another long drive moving the ball to the Gustavus five-yard line before Gustie safety Joe Welch intercepted a CJ Feller pass at the two-yard line, turning the Kohawks away yet again.
As the Gustavus offense struggled in the second quarter, the Gustie defense battled to keep the Kohawks out of the end zone. With six minutes left in the half, Coe intercepted a Jordan Becker pass at the Gustavus 42-yard line. The Kohawks once again drove deep into Gustie territory, but once again Gustavus came up with a big third down stop at the eight-yard line and limited Coe to a 25-yard field goal making the score 13-10.
Late in the first half (1:29 remaining), Coe took possession on its own 25-yard line and drove 49-yards to the Gustavus 26-yard line before Elliot Rausa made a 44-yard field goal with :05 left on the clock making the score 13-13 at halftime.
Neither team was able to put points on the board in their first couple of possessions in the second half. Late in the third quarter the Gusties were unable to get a punt off deep in their own territory due to a bad snap, and Coe took possession at the Gustavus 22-yard line. The Gustie defense once again kept the Kohawk offense out of the end zone, but Rausa made a 21-yard field goal giving Coe a 16-13 lead.
The Gustavus offense responded on its next possession driving 59 yards on 10 plays and scoring on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Becker to Elliot Herdina. Ostertag’s point after attempt gave the Gusties the lead for good at 20-16.
After the Gustavus defense held Coe to three plays and out on its next possession, Elliot Herdina struck again as he took a pitch from Jordan Becker on the option and sprinted around right end for 68 yards and a touchdown. John Ostertag’s point after attempt gave the Gusties a 27-16 lead.
The Kohawks would drive deep into Gustavus territory on their next possession, but the Gustie defense would not allow Coe into the end zone and the result was a 30-yard Rausa field goal (his fourth of the day) with 10:49 left in the game.
The Gustie defense would come up with one final big play when T.J. Ridley intercepted a tipped pass at the Gustavus 41-yard line with just under seven minutes left to play. The Gustavus offense would do the rest putting together a 13-play, 39-yard drive that would not result in points but kept the ball out of the hands of the Kohawk offense. Coe regained possession with :41 left in the game on its own 27-yard line and did manage to move the ball to the Gustie 30, however Ethan Armstrong intercepted a Hail Mary pass at the Gustavus two-yard line as the clock ran out.
Linebacker Paul Stommes led a valiant Gustavus defensive effort with 15 tackles, including one tackle for loss and a pass interception. Safety Joe Welch compiled 14 tackles, while also intercepting a pass.
Offensively, Herdina led the way with 74 yards rushing on three attempts, 40 yards receiving on three catches and the two touchdowns. Jordan Becker was efficient in his first collegiate start as he completed 18-of-28 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Becker also rushed for 10 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Chad Arlt made nine catches for 101 yards including three clutch catches for first downs as the Gusties were trying to keep the ball out of Coe’s hands late in the game. Arlt’s 40-yard catch in the first quarter moved him past Ryan Hoag into first place in career receiving yards at Gustavus. Arlt’s current career receiving yards total now sits at 2,307 yards. Hoag’s previous mark was 2,232 yards.
The Gusties will play their first of four home games in the 2008 season next Saturday against Hamline at 1:00 pm.