Gustavus welcomes Bethel University to Lloyd Hollingsworth Field for a late-season MIAC match-up. The Gusties enter the game with a record of 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the MIAC after losing to Augsburg 21-28 in Minneapolis last Saturday. Bethel, which had a bye last Saturday, enters the game with a record of 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the MIAC.
Gustavus will be trying to play the spoiler against a Bethel squad that is still in the hunt for the MIAC title. Much like Gustavus, the Royals have played their share of thrillers this season as three of their games have been decided on the final play of the game (a win and two losses). You can expect both teams to try to establish the run, with lots of hard hitting in the trenches.
Gustavus and Bethel will be facing each other for the 31st time. The Gusties have compiled a mark of 16-14-0 in the all-time series. The Gusties defeated Bethel 17-10 last year in a thriller in Arden Hills. Tony Palma intercepted a Royal pass on the Gustavus goal line with 40 seconds to play to preserve the Gustie victory. This will be first time the Royals have played on the new Hollingsworth Field as the last two Gustavus/Bethel contests have been played in Arden Hills.
Meet the Head Coaches
Gustavus Head Coach Peter Haugen is in his first season at the helm of the Gusties after spending the past 15 seasons as the head coach at Minneapolis Washburn High School. Haugen has compiled a record of 3-4 in his first seven games directing the Gustavus football program. Bethel Head Coach Steve Johnson has compiled a 142-71-1 overall record in 21 seasons directing the Royal football program. Johnson is a 1979 graduate of Bethel. He coached at St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota, and Montana State before taking the head coaching position at Bethel.
About Today’s Game
Scouting the Gusties
The first day of practice this season, head coach Peter Haugen told his squad that its primary goal should be to get better every day throughout the season and the rest would take care of itself. Ten weeks later, Haugen is still urging his squad to focus on getting better and even though there have been some bumps along the way, he is pleased with attitude and effort his squad brings to practice each and every day. Haugen’s Gusties battled Augsburg for 60 minutes last week and dominated play in the second half, but the Auggies orchestrated a last minute drive and scored in the final seconds to slip by the Gusties 28-21. Gustavus rushed 43 times for a season-high 232 yards and two touchdowns against the Auggies and controlled the ball for 21 of the 30 minutes in the second half. Defensively, Joe Welch and Zach Lundquist each recorded seven tackles, while Mike Mohs intercepted a pass and returned it 46 yards deep into Augsburg territory.
Through seven games, the Gustavus offensive unit is averaging 335.1 yards per game including 128.1 yards on the ground and 207.1 yards through the air. The defense has been allowing 412.6 yards per game including 124.7 yards on the ground and 287.9 yards through the air. Kendrick Hall leads the team in rushing at 76.5 yards per game and three touchdowns, while Elliott Herdina is the team’s top receiver with 38 catches for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Jordan Becker has completed 112-of-214 passes for 1404 yards and 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Linebacker Zach Lundquist leads the team in tackles with 58, including 4.0 tackles-for-loss, and 2.0 quarterback sacks.
Scouting the Royals
Bethel comes to Gustavus looking to stay in the hunt for the MIAC title with a record of 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the MIAC. The Royals are currently tied with St. Thomas for second place in the conference standings one game behind Saint John’s. The Johnnies have the upper hand in the race for the title having defeated both the Royals and Tommies in dramatic fashion earlier this season. The Royals used a 40-yard field goal as time expired to defeat Hamline 20-17 in Arden Hills two weeks ago. Bethel has been winning games with defense this season as the Royals lead the MIAC in scoring defense allowing only 11.4 points per game, while ranking second in total defense allowing 259.6 yards per game. The Royal defense has allowed its opponents to score only six offensive touchdowns in its five conference games. Offensively, Bethel prefers to run the football and control the clock. The Royals rank second in the MIAC in rushing offense with an average of 199.4 yards per game.
Through seven games, the Bethel offensive unit is averaging 378.6 yards per game including 189.3 yards on the ground and 189.3 yards through the air. The defense has been allowing 258.6 yards per game including 84.1 yards on the ground and 174.4 yards through the air. Logan Flannery leads the team in rushing at 109.1 yards per game, while Joel Quick is the team’s top receiver with 29 catches for 564 yards. Quarterback Josh Aakre has completed 72-of-124 passes for 980 yards and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions. Linebacker Ross Peterson leads the team in tackles with 48, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and 1.5 quarterback sacks.
Gustavus Game Notes
Home Sweet Home Is Theme for 2010 Gustavus Football Schedule – The Gustavus football team will play six home games again next year including three home games to open the season. The Gusties will host Wartburg College on Sept. 11, followed by Northwestern College of Roseville on Sept. 19 and St. Olaf (Homecoming) on Sept. 25. Gustavus will travel to Concordia on Oct. 2 and then return home to face Hamline on Oct. 9. It’s back on the road for the next two games with a contest at Bethel on Oct. 16 and then at Saint John’s on Oct. 23. The Gusties will wrap up the season with a home game against St. Thomas on Oct. 30, followed by a road game at Augsburg on Nov. 6, and then the finale at home against Carleton on Nov. 13.
When In Doubt – Punt! – Gustavus senior punter Matt Knutson recorded his 150th career punt last Saturday against Augsburg. Knutson, who has been the Gusties primary punter for the past three seasons, ranks third all-time in career punts behind Geoff Hansen (196, 1991-94) and Greg Laszewski (164, 1978-81). He has compiled 4,967 yards punting, which ranks second all-time behind Hansen with 6,827. He will likely become the second punter in the program’s history to compile 5,000 punting yards today against the Royals.
Hold On To Your Seats – Last week’s wild finish at Augsburg was just another in a long line of thrilling conclusions to Gustavus football games over the past two seasons. Since the first game of the 2008 season, 12 of the Gusties last 17contests have been decided by a touchdown or less and 11 of those 12 have been decided in the final minute of play or overtime. Just this season alone, Gustavus has had five of its seven games decided by a touchdown or less, with all five coming down to the final minute of play. Three weeks ago, the Gusties scored with 12 seconds left to beat Pacific Lutheran 34-33, while two weeks ago, the Gusties scored with 14 seconds left to beat Carleton 28-21, and last Saturday, Augsburg scored with 46 seconds left to beat the Gusties 28-21. This week’s opponent Bethel defeated Hamline last Saturday (20-17) on a field goal as time expired, and the Royals have also lost two games (Saint John’s 14-16 and Wheaton 26-29) in the final seconds of play. So sit back and get ready for what could likely be another thriller between two long-time MIAC rivals!
Tops In Tackles – The Gusties have four players ranked in the top 15 in tackles in league play, which is more than any other program in the MIAC. Zach Lundquist leads the way as he is ranked third with 44 total tackles and an average of 8.8 tackles per game. Tony Palma is sixth with 42 (8.4 per game), followed by Joe Welch, who is 11th with 37 (7.4 per game), and Paul Stommes, who is 14th with 29 (7.2 per game).