The Gustavus football team held a 10-7 lead over 18th-ranked Saint John’s University in the second quarter, but the Johnnies scored 24 straight points to pull away for a 31-17 win in Collegeville on Saturday. Saint John’s outgained the Gusties 364 yards to 250, as Johnnie quarterback Jordan Hansel threw for 283 yards on 19-of-36 passing with three touchdowns. Gustavus suffered its first loss of the season as its record fell to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play, while Saint John’s improved to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the MIAC.
The Gustavus defense came up big on the second drive of the game as Saint John’s was driving deep in Gustie territory after the Johnnies recovered a fumbled punt return. Zach Lundquist (So., Pelican Rapids, Minn.) intercepted Joe Boyle’s pass at the Gustavus five-yard line and returned it 39 yards before being brought down at the 44-yard line to prevent the Johnnie score.
Several drives later, Saint John’s punter Russell Gliadon recorded a three-yard punt giving the Gusties excellent field position at the Saint John’s 22-yard line. Gustavus would take advantage of the opportunity four plays later when John Ostertag (Sr., Walker, Minn.) kicked a 39-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead with 4:43 remaining in the first quarter.
Saint John’s took a 7-3 lead midway through the second quarter when Jordan Hansel, who replaced Boyle at the start of the quarter, connected with Bryan Busack for a 42-yard touchdown with 8:09 on the clock and Gliadon converted the extra-point.
Gustavus responded on the next possession as Jordan Becker (Jr., Easton, Minn.) hit Elliott Herdina (Fy., Blooming Prairie, Minn.) with a five-yard touchdown pass to cap a six-play, 60-yard drive to retake the lead 10-7 at 5:03 after an Ostertag point after attempt. The touchdown was setup by a 42-yard pass play from Becker to Chad Arlt (Sr., St. Michael, Minn.) on first-and-10.
The Johnnies answered back a touchdown drive of their own as Saint John’s was able to convert key third-downs, including a 51-yard catch by Jeff Schnobrich on third-and-four. Hansel ran the ball into the end zone from one-yard out as the Johnnies retook the lead 14-10 after the extra point. Saint John’s was not done scoring, though, as Gliadon hit a 29-yard field goal with 00:38 remaining in the half as the Johnnies went into the locker room with a 17-10 lead
After Saint John’s scored a touchdown to extended its lead to 24-10, Gustavus appeared to be mounting a drive to stop the Johnnies’ string of unanswered points as Becker connected with Arlt for a 45-yard pass play at the Saint John’s 24-yard line. The Gusties were unable to put points on the scoreboard with first-and-goal at the five-yard line as a 25-yard field goal went wide right after taking eight minutes off the clock.
With the score 31-10, Gustavus would get on the board late in the fourth quarter when Arlt and Becker hooked up for a three-yard touchdown pass with 6:44 left in the game to cut the score to 31-17.
Saint John’s finished the game with 364 yards in total offense, including a 291-190 advantage in the air. Jeff Schnobrich and Bryan Busack were Jordan Hansel’s favorite targets as Schnobrich hauled in six catches for 111 and Busack caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, accounting for 209 of Hansel’s 283 passing yards.
For Gustavus, Jordan Becker (Jr., Easton, Minn.) went 16-for-23 for 190 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Arlt finished with a game-high 141 yards on seven receptions, including his first touchdown of the season. Cody Sukalski (So., Blue Earth, Minn.), Richard White (Sr., Prior Lake, Minn.), Ray Wilson (Sr., Brooklyn Park, Minn.), and Herdina each made two grabs. Logan Becker (Fy., Easton, Minn.) also had one catch.
Both teams struggled running the ball as the Johnnies held a slim 73-60 edge in rushing yards. Gustavus’ Adam Lukes (Sr., Watertown, Minn.) led all rushers with 41 yards on 10 carries, while Becker ran for 28 yards on 10 attempts and Ray Wilson (Sr., Brooklyn Park, Minn.) had nine carries for 15 yards. Kellen Blaser led Saint John’s with eight carries and 21 yards.
Three Gusties finished with eight tackles, including Joe Welch (Jr., Hastings, Minn.) with six solo stops and two assists, Brian Berglund (Sr., Lauderdale, Minn.) with two solo tackles and six assists, and Tony Palma (Jr., Lino Lakes, Minn.) with one solo stop and seven assists. Saint John’s was led by Ryan Wimmer, who recorded a game-high 14 tackles with seven solo stops and seven assists and a sack.
Gustavus (2-1 overall, 1-1 MIAC) will host St. Thomas (2-1 overall, 1-1 MIAC) next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on Homecoming.