The Gustavus football team thrilled a Homecoming crowd of just over 2,000 as quarterback Jordan Becker threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Elliott Herdina with :12 seconds remaining in regulation play giving the Gusties a 34-33 win over Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday afternoon. Becker had a big day for the Gusties as he completed 26-of-41 passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions, while Elliott Herdina had 11 catches for 141 yards and two TDs.
The game turned out to be an offensive shootout as the two squads combined to amass 931 yards of total offense including 725 yards through the air. Ten touchdowns were scored in the game and all 10 were touchdown passes. The NCAA Division III record for most touchdowns passes in a game by both teams is 12 set by St. Thomas (MN) (6) & Bethel (MN) (6), on Nov. 13, 1993. The five touchdowns thrown by Becker is the second highest single game total in school history. The record is six set by Bob Southworth against Hamline on Oct. 31, 1998.
It was also a big day for wide receivers as Pacific Lutheran’s Chad Ford set a school record with 13 catches for 292 yards and four touchdowns, while Gustavus’ Elliott Herdina made 11 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns including the game-winner.
Ironically, this high-scoring contest started out with a scoreless first quarter. Both teams put together long drives in the quarter, but could not put any points on the board as the Lutes lost possession on downs at the Gustavus 18, while the Gusties missed a 26-yard field goal after driving to the PLU 8-yard line.
Both teams found the end zone in the second quarter as AJ Palazzolo hit Kyle Whitford with a 28-yard TD pass for Pacific Lutheran and Jordan Becker hooked up with Elliott Herdina on a 33-yard TD strike. The score was tied 7-7 at halftime.
After scoring only 14 points in the first 30 minutes, the two teams combined to score 53 points in the second thirty minutes. Gustavus drove 56 yards in five plays to open the second half and took a 14-7 lead when Becker hit Brandon Jonker with a pass from three yards out. PLU struck right back when Jordan Rasmussen hit Greg Ford with a 57-yard touchdown pass just :09 seconds later. The extra point was missed and the Gusties led 14-13. The Lutes would scored again late in the third quarter when Rasmussen found Ford again, this time for a 33-yard TD strike. PLU went for two and failed giving Pacific Lutheran a 19-14 lead. The Gusties struck right back when Becker hit Cameron Maurer with a 5-yard touchdown pass with :28 left in the third quarter. The Gusties went for the two-point conversion and were successful as Becker found Herdina open in the end zone. Gustavus led 22-19 through three quarters.
Pacific Lutheran scored twice in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter as AJ Palazzo hit Greg Ford with two touchdown passes, one good for 23 yards and the other a 34-yard strike. The Lutes looked to be in control of the contest with a 33-22 lead. Gustavus, however had other ideas and followed PLU’s second touchdown with an impressive 9-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Blake Noennig with 6:28 remaining in the contest. The Gusties missed the two-point conversion and trailed 33-28. The Gusties stopped Pacific Lutheran on its next drive and forced the Lutes to punt. Cody
Sukalski gave Gustavus a big boost as he grabbed the PLU punt at the Gustie 13-yard line and returned it 31 yards to the Gustavus 44-yard line. Three carries by Gustavus running back back Greg Ramaker moved the ball to the PLU 41 with 2:30 left in regulation. The Gusties would move the ball down to the Lutes 9-yard line and faced a fourth-and-six with :56 left to play. Jordan Becker kept the drive alive with a 7-yard completion to Herdina giving Gustavus a first down on the two-yard line with :30 left on the clock. The Gusties tried to get into the end zone twice with rush attempts, but were shut down by the Lutes both times. On a third-and-goal with :19 seconds to play, Becker hit Herdina at the goal line and Herdina reached over for the touchdown with :12 seconds left in regulation allowing the Gusties to claim the thrilling 34-33 come-from-behind victory.
The victory snapped a string of three consecutive Homecoming game losses for the Gusties dating back to 2006. It also marked the second consecutive win over Pacific Lutheran after the Gusties claimed a 24-14 win in Tacoma last October 11.
Gustavus will host Carleton College in an important MIAC match-up next Saturday at 1:00 pm.