The Gustavus football team welcomes the Royals of Bethel University to Lloyd Hollingsworth Field for Saturday’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown. After suffering a 16-0 loss to Valley City State University on Homecoming last weekend, the Gusties are looking to get back on track after two straight losses. Bethel also looks to get back in the win column after suffering its first loss of the season to St. Thomas 37-0 last weekend. After being kept off the scoreboard last weekend, both the Gusties and Royals will try to get their respective offenses back into rhythm. Gustavus enters Saturday’s mid-season matchup at 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the MIAC, while Bethel comes in at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the MIAC.
Watch and Listen
Scouting The Gusties
The Gustavus Adolphus football team is seeking a win in MIAC play after dropping its last two contests to St. Thomas and Valley City State. The Gusties are most recently coming off a 16-0 loss to Valley City State last Saturday on Homecoming. With over half the 2012 season in the books, Gustavus looks to rebound against a Bethel team that was humbled by conference-leader St. Thomas last weekend in St. Paul.
The Black and Gold will seek a jumpstart from its offense, which has struggled with consistency and balance over the past two weekends. The Gusties were held to just 224 yards of total offense in last weekend’s shutout, more than 100 yards under their season average of 333.7 yards per game. Despite the loss of starting running back Jeffrey Dubose due to injury, Gustavus will strive to get the running game back on track after being held under 100 yards rushing the past two games. Following a week four victory over Hamline, Gustavus was averaging over 400 total yards per game, 253.3 of which were on the ground.
Against Gustavus’ ball-hawking defense that now ranks eighth in NCAA Division III with 22 turnovers gained, Valley City State successfully took care of the ball and played mistake-free football. The Vikings won the turnover battle and chewed up more than 41 minutes of clock through the use of long, pounding drives that ended in Gustavus territory eight out of ten times.
Faced with early deficits and a ground game that has struggled to find its early-season form, quarterback Muresuk Mena has been forced to take to the air more often over the past two weeks. Mena averaged 19 passes per game through the first four weeks, however, he has thrown the ball an average of 26 times the past two. The senior was 11-for-27 for 128 yards last week against Valley City State, bringing his season total to 836 yards passing and a completion percentage of 55.1. Sophomore Michael Hintze has emerged as Mena’s top target through the air, leading the Gusties with 116 yards over the last two contests. With three grabs for a game-high 54 yards last week, Hintze now leads the team in receiving with 16 catches for 210 yards.
The Gustie defense enters today’s game ranked fourth in the league in points allowed per game (18.8) and fifth in yards per game (384.5). Gustavus’ outside linebacking duo of sophomore Anthony Boyce and junior Joe Haas lead the team in tackles with 45 (23 solo) and 42 (23 solo), respectively.
Scouting the Royals
The Bethel University football team will be hungry for a win on Saturday after dropping its first game of the season 37-0 to St. Thomas last weekend. Following a pair of wild finishes where Bethel edged Augsburg 21-20 on Sept. 29 and Concordia 15-14 on Oct. 6, the Royals ran into a buzzsaw of a St. Thomas defense that allowed just 160 yards of offense and only seven first downs in the game.
St. Thomas built a 24-0 halftime lead before adding two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Bethel’s defense, which was allowing an average of 263 total yards entering the game, allowed 370 yards to St. Thomas. The Tommies successfully penetrated one of the stingiest run defenses in the league by totaling 207 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground.
Quarterback Erik Peterson threw two interceptions and was held to 129 yards on 14-of-27 passing. Mitch Hallstrom was Peterson’s top receiver, making four catches for 56 yards. Bethel’s running game was held to just 31 yards, as running back Jesse Phenow gained 25 yards on 10 carries.
Peterson has thrown for 1038 yards this season, ranking fourth in the league with an average of 173 yards per game through the air. He has completed 62.8-percent of his passes and holds a touchdown-to-interception ratio of five-to- four. Bethel has two players with over 300 yards receiving in Jay Hilbrands and Mitch Hallstrom. Hilbrands has four touchdowns and 368 yards on 24 catches, while Hallstrom has 329 yards on 31 catches. Bethel’s running game, which averages 117 yards per game, is led by Marshall Klitzke who has three rushing touchdowns, he has carried the ball 35 times for 257 yards.
Employing 3-4 defense that is led by linebacker Seth Mathis, Bethel ranks third in the league in total defense, allowing an average of 281.2 yards per game. The Royals are allowing 161.2 yards (2nd/MIAC) through the air and 120 yards (3rd/MIAC) on the ground, while forcing the second most turnovers in the league with 18. Mathis is the third leading tackler in the conference with 67 total tackles (32 solo). He has also forced two fumbles and intercepted three passes. With a proven aerial defense that leads the MIAC with 36 pass breakups (11 more than second ranked St. Thomas) and has eight interceptions, ball control and decision-making will be vital for the Gustavus offense.