The Gustavus football team welcomes the Vikings of Valley City State University to Lloyd Hollingsworth Field for Saturday’s mid-season Homecoming showdown. In what is Gustavus’ final non-conference test of the 2012 season, the Black and Gold will look to get back into the win column after suffering a 28-14 loss to St. Thomas on the road last weekend. NAIA opponent Valley City State, which is located one hour west of Fargo, N.D., enters today’s game coming off an impressive 61-35 victory over Mayville State. Gustavus, with an overall record of 2-3, looks to get back to .500 Saturday afternoon while Valley City State comes in with an overall record of 4-2.
Watch and Listen
Scouting The Gusties
The Gustavus Adolphus football team looks for a turnaround Saturday after suffering its third MIAC loss of the season at the hands of St. Thomas last weekend in St. Paul. Although the Gusties put themselves in a position to keep stride with the No. 3 Tommies late in the fourth quarter, St. Thomas was able to dig in its heels and capitalize on a Gustavus turnover and put the game out of reach with a late score.
Despite trailing St. Thomas 21-0 late in the third quarter, Gustavus began to rally after Cory Colvard picked up a fumble and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 21-7. The Gusties would cut the lead to seven at 21-14 with nine minutes remaining thanks to a Phillip Butler touchdown catch from Muresuk Mena. With just under seven minutes remaining, the Gusties were driving for the tying score when St. Thomas picked off a Mena pass deep inside Gustie territory. The Tommies put the game out of reach when they scored a touchdown two plays later making the final score 28-14.
The Gusties, who went into last Saturday’s game with the second-ranked ground attack in the MIAC, found their running game stifled by a St. Thomas defense that allowed just 20 yards rushing on the day. Even though the defense allowed nearly 500 yards of total offense, Gustavus’ bend don’t break defensive philosophy came up with several key third down stops and a season-best six turnovers, allowing the Gusties to stay close to the nationally ranked Tommies.
At the halfway point of the 2012 season, Peter Haugen’s squad is averaging 206.6 yards rushing (5th/MIAC) and 149.0 yard passing (7th/MIAC) for a total of 355.6 yards per game (5th/MIAC). The Gusties are allowing an average of 391.4 total yards, 244.8 of which are passing, and 19.4 points per game defensively. Despite allowing the sixth most yards per game in the league, it has been the turnover creation that Gustavus’ defense has hung its hat on. The Gusties lead the league and rank fifth in the nation in takeaways with 22.
The Gustavus offense has been built around quarterback Muresuk Mena, who has scored ten touchdowns (6 pass, 4 rush) and carries a 59-percent (59-100) completion percentage with 708 yards (141.6 ypg) through the air. By averaging 89 yards per game on the ground, Mena accounts for over 60-percent of Gustavus’ offense at 230.6 all-purpose yards per game. Gustavus is still looking for a breakout performance from a receiving corps that has four players with over 100 yards on the season including Phillip Butler (171 yds.), Michael Hintze (156 yds.), Andre Creighton (156 yds.), and Jeffrey Dubose (106 yds.).
The Gustavus defense is led by its three linebackers Anthony Boyce, Matt Keller, and Joe Haas. The trio accounts for 28-percent of the team’s total tackles, as Boyce leads the way with 36, followed by Keller and Haas with 31 each. Cornerback Torey Asao has a team-high three interceptions, while fellow corner Zach Dilger has broken up three passes and has a pick of his own.
Scouting The Vikings
After suffering its second loss of the season to South Dakota School of Mines & Technology 39-28 on Sept. 29, the Valley City State University football team got back on the winning track with a 61-35 victory over Mayville State last Saturday in Mayville, Minn. The Vikings are coming off their best offensive performance of the season against the Comets, tallying 452 yard rushing and 89 yards passing for a season-high 541 yards in the game.
With a 16-7 half time lead against Mayville State, Valley City State scored 35 points off of seven touchdowns in the second half to cruise to the 26-point win. Running back Derek Elliot carried the load of the VCSU’s powerful ground game by scoring four touchdowns and totaling 258 yards on just 19 carries (13.6 ypc). Running back Taylor Cino added two touchdowns and 149 yards rushing, while quarterback Tommy Zinke was 11-for-23 for 89 yards with one touchdown passing.
Valley City Sate enters today’s game with the 15th best running game in the NAIA, averaging 198.8 yards rushing per game. Along with an average of 162.2 yards passing, the Vikings average 361 total yards and 31.8 points per game. They have been held under 25 points just twice this year.
Derek Elliot enters Saturday as the top-scoring player in NAIA Division I with 84 points off of 14 touchdowns. He ranks third in all-purpose yards (1,012) and is averaging 96.2 yards rushing, 37.7 yards receiving, and 23.2 yards per kick return. Quarterback Tommy Zinke has thrown for 973 yards and holds a completion percentage of 48.3. He averages 162.2 yards per game through the air and has a touchdown to interception ratio of 9-to-4. Zinke’s top target down the field has been Ken Eliacin, who has caught 27 passes for a total of 461 yards with five touchdowns.
Defensive lineman Aaron Feije and linebacker Alex Hooey are at the head of a defense that is allowing an average of 316.5 yards and 29.7 points per game. Feije leads the team with 69 tackles (22 solo, 47 asst.), nine of which are for loss, while Hooey has 52 tackles (12 solo, 40 asst.) and two interceptions. With 37 tackles for loss and 19 sacks, backfield penetration will continue to be a focal point of VCSU’s defensive strategy this afternoon.