The Gustavus football team extended its winning streak to four games after defeating Bethel University 17-10 in Arden Hills on Saturday afternoon. Junior linebacker Tony Palma (Lino Lakes, Minn.) intercepted a Royal pass at the Gustie seven-yard line with 00:48 remaining in the game to preserve the victory. Gustavus moved into a four-way tie for first place in the MIAC standings at 4-2 and improved to 6-2 overall. Bethel dropped to 3-3 in the conference and 4-4 overall.
Neither team was able to get into an offensive rhythm in the first quarter as the squads combined for six punts in a battle for field position. On their first possession of the second quarter, the Royals started a drive from the Gustie 42-yard line. Ten plays later, Dusty Wahl ran into the end zone from a yard out to give the Royals a 7-0 lead with 9:17 left on the clock in the half. Gustavus answered on the next drive when Jordan Becker (Jr., Easton, Minn.) ended an eight-play drive with a two-yard scamper to tie the score at 7-7 after the point after attempt. Becker and Bethel quarterback Josh Aakre threw interceptions before the end of the half as both teams looked to gain an advantage heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Gusties went three-and-out on the first drive of the third quarter giving Bethel the ball at its own 16-yard line. The Royals marched down the field into the Gustauvs red-zone when Dustin Kammerer (So., Watertown, Minn.) stopped Aakre on third-and-four, forcing Bethel to attempt a 27-yard field goal. Matt Wetherell converted to kick giving the Royals a 10-7 lead at 5:08 in the third quarter.
However, Gustavus responded on the ensuing drive when Logan Becker (Fy., Easton, Minn.) hit Richard White (Sr., Prior Lake, Minn.) with an 18-yard pass for a 14-10 score after the John Ostertag (Sr., Walker, Minn.) extra point. Jordan Becker set up the touchdown earlier in the drive when he hit Chad Arlt (Sr., St. Michael, Minn.) with an 18-yard completion.
Isaac Perry (Sr., Wabasha, Minn.) intercepted an Aakre pass on the next possession giving the Gusties the ball at the Gustavus-38. The offense moved down the field and appeared to be headed for the end zone when the Gusties had first-and-goal at the five-yard line after a Royal penalty. However, Bethel forced a fumble and recovered the ball at the one-yard line to keep Gustavus from adding to its lead.
The Gusties came up with another defensive stand as the Royals were unable to move the chains. Now it was Gustavus’ turn to take advantage of good field position when the Bethel punt was downed at the Royal 28-yard line. The result was a 27-yard field goal from Ostertag to go ahead 17-10 with 7:19 remaining in the game.
Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck’s defense continued its stellar play when it picked off two Royal passes on their last two drives of the game, including Tony Palma’s interception at the end of the fourth quarter, to fend off Bethel’s late rally attempts.
Defensively, Joe Welch (Jr., Hastings, Minn.) and Tony Palma led the Gusties with 12 tackles and an interception each. Ethan Armstrong (Sr., Wheaton, Minn.) joined Palma, Perry, and Welch with an interception. On the offensive side of the ball, Elliott Herdina (Fy., Blooming Prairie, Minn.) compiled 104 yards of total offense with 79 rushing yards on 19 carries and 35 receiving yards on five receptions. Jordan Becker threw for 106 yards on 11-of-19 passing. The Royals were led offensively by Logan Flannery, who rushed for 86 yards on 22 attempts. Trent Pearson paced Bethel with 11 tackles.
Gustavus will face St. Olaf next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Northfield as it looks to stay in the chase for the MIAC title.