The Gustavus football team had 122 rushing yards and 192 passing yards as the Gusties defeated Pacific Lutheran University 24-14 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wash. on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Jay Schoenebeck’s squad ran 85 plays as Gustavus held the ball for nearly 37 minutes compared to 56 plays in 23 minutes for the Lutes. Gustavus improved its overall record to 3-2, while Pacific Lutheran fell to 1-3.
The Lutes marched down the field on their first possession of the game as quarterback Michael Byrne connected with wide receiver Drew Griffin on a six-yard touchdown pass to take an early 7-0 lead after the successful extra point with 9:38 left in the first quarter. The touchdown pass was set up by a 26-yard reception by Greg Ford to get to the Gustie three-yard line as Byrne went 4-of-4 passing for 64 yards in the drive.
The Gustie defense stepped up to keep Pacific Lutheran off the scoreboard after Haden Gienger picked off a Jordan Becker (Jr., Easton, Minn.) pass in Gustavus territory. Gustie cornerback Ethan Armstrong (Sr., Wheaton, Minn.) and Ford fought for a jump ball in the end zone on the second play of the possession, but neither was unable to control the ball. Joe Welch (Jr., Hastings, Minn.) dove for the ball before it fell to the ground to give Gustavus possession at its 20-yard line.
The turnover energized the Gustie offense as they began to move the chains down the field, but the Lute defense caused an interception of their own. However, Pacific Lutheran was unable to capitalize as the Lutes turned the ball over on downs at the Gustie 27-yard line. Gustavus hit its offensive stride as it scored on a 17-play, 7:43 drive to even the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. Running back Adam Lukes (Sr., Watertown, Minn.) scored on a two-yard touchdown scamper up the middle followed by a successful John Ostertag (Sr., Walker, Minn.) extra point. The Gusties converted two key fourth-down plays in the drive, including a pass play from Becker to Chad Arlt (Sr., St. Michael, Minn.) in the middle of the field at the Lute-13 yard line on fourth-and-five.
Later in the quarter, Welch intercepted his second pass of the game leading to another Gustavus touchdown. Elliott Herdina (Fy., Blooming Prairie, Minn.) caught a 26-yard screen pass from Becker on third-and-nine before being brought down inside the one-yard line. Gustavus took a 14-7 lead with 00:57 remaining in the half when Lukes punched in his second rushing touchdown of the game on the next play.
Both squads engaged in a field position battle in the third quarter as they struggled to move the ball. Becker threw his fourth interception when a pass went off the hands of Blake Noennig (Jr., Norwood-Young America, Minn.) as Andy Sturza came down with his second interception at the Gustavus 37-yard line. The Lutes did not capitalize on the turnover as Hamada Omar (Jr., Minneapolis, Minn.) intercepted Byrne’s pass at the Gustavus 13-yard line before fumbling the return at midfield. Pacific Lutheran recovered the ball, but the Gustie defense forced the Lutes to punt after three plays.
Early in the fourth quarter, linebacker Paul Stommes (So., Richmond, Minn.) tipped a Byrne pass that was intercepted by Isaac Perry (Sr., Wabasha, Minn.) in Lute territory. The Gusties took advantage of Pacific Lutheran’s fourth turnover of the game when Becker found Herdina in the right corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception. Ostertag kicked the point after attempt to give Gustavus a 21-7 lead with 10:35 remaining in the game.
The Lutes quickly cut the deficit in half at 21-14 when Kyle Whitford ran for a nine-yard touchdown with 9:11 on the game clock. A 46-yard screen pass from Byrne to Drew Griffin setup Whitford’s score.
With 6:16 remaining in the game, Gustavus embarked on a 10-play drive that took nearly four minutes off the clock. Arlt hauled in crucial 41-yard pass to the Lute 17-yard line as the Gusties faced third-and-11 in their end of the field. Ostertag made it a two-possession game when he kicked a 32-yard field goal to give Gustavus a double-digit lead. Pacific Lutheran had another opportunity to score, but T.J. Ridley (Jr., Edina, Minn.) intercepted the fifth pass of the game as the Gusties prevailed 24-14.
Defensively, both squads combined to force 10 turnovers in the game. Ted Aleckson (Sr., Weston, Wis.) led the way for Gustavus with five tackles, including a sack in the first quarter. Four players, Perry, Ridley, Tony Palma (Jr., Lino Lakes, Minn.), and Dustin Kammerer (So., Watertown, Minn.), registered four tackles each. The Gusties held the Lutes to 58 yards rushing and 159 yards passing. Haden Gienger and Giustin Jenkins of Pacific Lutheran finished the game with 10 tackles apiece.
The Gusties reached the 100-yard mark rushing for the first time this season with 122 yards. Ray Wilson (Sr., Brooklyn Park, Minn.) led all rushers with 62 yards on 16 carries. Jordan Becker finished the game 17-for-36 passing for 192 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. Three different players tallied four catches including Arlt, Herdina, Cameron Maurer (Jr,. Morgan, Minn.), and Cody Sukalski (So., Blue Earth, Minn.). Michael Byrne went 15-for-37 in the air for 159 yards and five interceptions.
Gustavus will face Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. on Saturday, October 18 at 1 p.m.