For the second straight week, the Gustavus Football team scored in the final seconds of the game to defeat Carleton 28-21 on Hollingsworth Field in St. Peter, MN Saturday afternoon. The Gusties rallied from a 21-14 deficit heading into the fourth quarter before taking the lead with :14 seconds left in the game. The winning touchdown came on a 15 yard pass from Jordan Becker to Elliot Herdina, a finish reminiscent of one week earlier against Pacific Lutheran University.
As the score would indicate, both teams turned in very similar statistics with the Knights tallying 72 plays for 327 total yards, and the Gusties edging them out with 74 plays for 345 yards. The Gusties turned in a very balanced offensive performance rushing for 157 yards and passing for 170 yards compared to Carleton’s 87 yards rushing and 285 yards through the air.
The Knights took the early first quarter lead on a one yard touchdown run by Jon Lien. Lien was Carleton’s best rusher carrying the ball 24 times for 89 yards. The touchdown was set up by a blocked field goal with Carleton’s Kyle Jacobs returning the block 47 yards to the Gustavus 31 yard line. Seven plays and 3:19 seconds later, the Gusties struck back on a 25 yard touchdown pass from a scrambling Becker to Herdina. Carleton’s second score came early in the second quarter on an 18 yard touchdown pass from Vaughn Schmid to Anthony Kemper to make the score 14-6 in favor of the Knights. Kemper was the Carleton’s second leading receiver in the game bringing in four catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
In a game with many shifts in momentum, the second half began with two sudden changes. The Knights started off the quarter completing a nine play scoring drive that went 74 yards and was capped off by a 20 yard touchdown pass from Schmid to Kemper. Schmid would complete 25 of 44 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns in the game. On the ensuing kick-off, Gustavus strong safety Joe Welch took the kick-off back 87 yards for the Gustie touchdown. Welch had a career day returning 3 kicks for 145 yards. The two point conversion attempt was a Becker pass complete to Cameron Maurer making the score Carleton 21 Gustavus 14.
The Gustavus defense looked like different group after the initial third quarter Carleton touchdown by recovering a fumble, forcing three straight punts, intercepting a pass and blocking the potential go ahead field goal in the last six Carleton drives. Linebackers Paul Stommes and Tony Palma led the way for the Gusties with a combined 25 tackles. It wasn’t until the 7:04 mark of the fourth quarter that Gustavus scored the tying touchdown. The 7 play 43 yard drive ended with a five yard touchdown pass from Becker to Cody Sukalski, leaving Carleton 6:38 seconds left on the clock in the tie game.
The key play of the game came on a 38 yard Carleton field goal attempt with 2:33 seconds left in the game. With a strong push up the middle and a low kick, senior defensive lineman Christian Vanek was able to block the potentially winning field goal, giving Gustavus the ball back with just over two minutes left in the game. Gustavus rushed for 39 yards and threw for 23 yards in the final scoring drive of the game. Herdina caught a Becker pass, slipped a tackle inside the 10 yard line, and ran into the endzone for the game winning touchdown. Becker finished the day completing 13 of 27 passes for 170 yards, and completing the game winning touchdown pass for the second week in a row, while Herdina had another big game catching six passes for 92 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
With the win, Gustavus goes to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the MIAC. The Gusties will travel to Minneapolis, MN next Saturday to play Augsburg at 1:00pm.