Gustavus will face Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn. in a key Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest on Saturday. The Gusties enter the game at 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the MIAC. The Royals stand at 4-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play. Last week, Gustavus extended its winning streak to three games by defeating Augsburg College 34-31 at Hollingsworth Field. Bethel, which had a bye week last Saturday, kicked a field goal as time expired to defeat host Hamline 9-7 in St. Paul on Saturday, October 18.
Tom Wheeler will be broadcasting the game on KNUJ 860 AM and through the Gustavus Athletics website. Bethel will be providing live statistics and a live video feed of the contest. Stats are available here, while the video feed is available here.
Saturday’s match-up in Arden Hills will be the 30th meeting between Gustavus Adolphus College and Bethel University. The Gusties have a slim advantage in the all-time series at 15-14-0, but the Royals have won seven of the last eight meetings. Last year, Bethel defeated Gustavus 38-23 as the Royals scored 21 points in the first quarter and held on for the victory.
Meet the Head Coaches
Gustavus Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck (’80) improved his career record to 73-74 overall and 62-63 in the MIAC while in his 15th season at Gustavus. Bethel Head Coach Steve Johnson is in his 20th season at his alma mater with a career record of 136-67-1. Johnson was the MIAC Coach of the Year last season as the Royals won the conference title and advanced to the NCAA semifinal round.
A Glance at the Gusties
Gustavus controlled the line of scrimmage as the Gusties rushed for 354 yards in a 34-31 victory over Augsburg College on Saturday afternoon in St. Peter. On the first possession of the game, Coach Schoenebeck’s squad set the tone as it ran the ball 10 times on an 11-play drive and ended with a one-yard touchdown leap by senior Ray Wilson to give the Gusties a 6-0 lead. Gustavus held a 13-3 edge before Augsburg scored two touchdowns off Gustie turnovers to take a 17-13 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, Gustavus regained the lead at 20-17 when senior Adam Lukes carried the ball into the end zone from one yard out after an Auggie turnover. After Augsburg went back on top 24-20, the Gusties responded with two touchdowns thanks to two big plays. Senior Chad Arlt scored the first touchdown on a 46-yard pass from junior Jordan Becker, while Wilson dashed into the end zone on an 81-yard run that proved to be the game-winner as Gustavus hung on for the 34-31 win.
Senior Ray Wilson set a Gustavus single-game rushing record with 258 yards on 28 carries to go along with two touchdowns. With the success of the running game, Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck’s squad controlled the ball for 33:10 executing 80 plays, compared to 26:50 for Augsburg, which ran 68 plays. Becker finished the game 9-for-23 passing for 113 yards and one touchdown with Arlt catching three of those passes for 67 yards and the touchdown. On defense, Joe Welch led the Gusties with 12 tackles (four solo, eight assisted).
Offensively, Gustavus is third in scoring at 24.8 points per game and total offense at 352.4 yards per contest in the MIAC. Jordan Becker ranks third in the league in passing yards per game with an average of 209.4 yards per game, while Chad Arlt is third in reception yards per game with an average of 110.0 yards per game. The Gusties have developed their running game as the season has progressed and they now rank fourth in the conference in rushing offense at 143.0 yards per game. Defensively, safety Joe Welch is tied for third in the league in tackles per game at 9.4. Six players have recorded three tackles-for-loss or more including Ted Aleckson, Mike Fabel, Dustin Kammerer, Tony Palma, Paul Stommes, and Scott Wilkie.
A Look at the Royals
Bethel needed a 30-yard field goal from Matt Wetherell as time expired to defeat Hamline 9-7 in St. Paul on Saturday, October 18. The Royal defense recovered a fumble on a Piper punt return after the offense went three-and-out to set up the first scoring drive of the game. Dusty Wahl got into the end zone on a four-yard scamper to cap off a 12-play, 54-yard drive to give Bethel a 6-0 lead after the point after attempt was blocked. The remainder of the game was a defensive battle between the squads. Hamline entered the Royal red-zone three times during the third and fourth quarters, but only came away with one touchdown. The Pipers took a 7-6 lead when quarterback James Leary ran into the end zone from four yards out with 00:34 remaining in the contest. Tim Cornish returned the ensuing kickoff to give Bethel good field position at the Hamline 48-yard line. The Royals were able to get to the Piper 13-yard line to set up Wetherell’s game-winning field goal.
The Royal offense has a strong ground game led by All-MIAC running back Logan Flannery. Flannery is the third leading rusher in conference contests averaging 88.8 yards per game. Coach Johnson used three different starting quarterbacks earlier in the season to replace 2007 MIAC MVP Ben Wetzell, but first-year Josh Aakre has been the starter since October 4. Aakre has thrown for 321 yards on 26-of-50 passing with one interception and no touchdowns.
Defensively, Bethel is allowing 12.8 points per game and 302.0 yards per game, which is third best in the league in both categories. Three players rank among the top 10 players in tackles in the MIAC. Senior linebacker Darin Schwarze is tied for third at 9.4 tackles per game. Senior linebacker Nate Voronyak and sophomore linebacker Trent Pearson are ninth and tenth, respectively, at 8.5 and 8.4 stops per game. Senior defensive lineman Aaron Mills has also compiled five sacks in five league games.
Running for the Record Book- Senior running back Ray Wilson (Brooklyn Park, Minn./Totino Grace) was named the MIAC Offensive Player of the Week as he set a Gustavus single-game record with 258 rushing yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. His 258 rushing yards broke the previous mark of 252 yards set by Andy Traetow against Hamline on October 26, 2002. Prior to Saturday’s game, Wilson had 605 career rushing yards in 23 games.
Third Time’s the Charm- Gustavus ranks first in conference third-down conversion percentage at 47.4 percent. In the most recent victories over Carleton and Augsburg, the Gusties converted 17 of 32 third-down opportunities for a 53.1 percent conversion rate. Defensively, Gustavus has held opponents to a third-down conversion percentage of 34.5.
Moving Mountains- The Gustie offensive line has contributed significantly to the three straight victories for Gustavus. Over the course of those games, the Gusties have averaged 214.7 rushing yards and allowed Jordan Becker to be sacked just three times. Prior to October 11, Gustavus averaged 68.8 yards rushing in four games and allowed eight total sacks. Members of the offensive line include seniors Michael Klayum and Jared Thelemann, juniors Kevin Geurink and Mike May, and sophomore Chris Martinez.
Arlt Nearing 3,000 Receiving Yards- Wide receiver Chad Arlt needs 62 receiving yards to reach 3,000 career yards after he caught three passes for 67 yards against Augsburg. Arlt, the most prolific wide receiver in Gustavus history, holds nearly every receiving record including career receptions (207), career receiving yards (2,938), single-game receiving yards (252), and longest reception (99 yards twice).
Down The Stretch They Go- Gustavus is currently in a three-way tie for fourth place in the MIAC standings at 3-2 with Carleton and Bethel, and trail league-leading Concordia by one game. Six teams are still in the The Gusties have games remaining against Bethel and St. Olaf on the road before finishing the season against Concordia at Hollingsworth Field.