St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus football team closed the 2012 season with a 29-10 loss to No. 17 Concordia College on Saturday afternoon at Hollingsworth Field. With the score tied 10-10 at halftime, Concordia scored 19 unanswered points over the final 30 minutes to pick up the its eighth win of the season and keep its NCAA Playoff hopes alive.
Gustavus finishes its season 3-7 overall and 2-6 in the MIAC, while Concordia improves 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the MIAC.
Concordia started the game with an efficient 10-play 90-yard touchdown scoring drive that took 5:47 off the game clock and put Concordia up 7-0 following the extra point. Running back Ben Wolf broke a 32-yard run on the second play from scrimmage before later capping off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run after taking a pitch and gaining the edge on his way into the end zone.
Gustavus’ defense settled in after Concordia’s opening possession and forced two straight punts following. With control of the ball near the end of the first quarter, quarterback Tim Stepka (Sr., New Prague, Minn.) connected with Matt Boyce (Fr., Excelsior, Minn.) on a 35-yard catch-and-run. Boyce caught a skinny-post in traffic on 3rd-and-10 and broke several tackles on his way to the Cobber 12-yard-line. After running back Jeffrey Dubose (Jr., St. Paul, Minn.) ran the ball down to the one-yard-line, the Cobbers forced Gustavus into a 3rd-and-goal situation from the nine-yard-line. Stepka sprinted out right and threw back to his left, finding Eddie Ramos (Jr., Lakeland, Fla.) on a fade in the back left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Tom Huepenbecker (Sr., Middleton, Wis.) added the extra point to knot the game at 7-7 with 13:02 left in the second quarter.
Ramos’ touchdown was the first of his collegiate career, as the junior would go on to finish the game with three catches of 47 yards.
Neither squad would find the end zone again in the remaining minutes of the second quarter. Huepenbecker, who played in his 40th career game this afternoon, capped off a 16-play 73-yard drive with 20-yard field goal to put Gustavus on top 10-7 with 7:27 left in the half.
Concordia responded to the Huepenbecker field goal with one of its own with :22 seconds left. Ben Wagner knocked the kick through the uprights from 40 yards out to tie the game at 10-10.
Concordia outgained the Gusties 170-to-139 yards in the first half. Gustavus had -1 yards rushing and 140 yards passing in the half.
The Gusties moved the ball into Cobber territory before being forced to punt on the opening drive of the third quarter. From there, then Cobbers got back to the basics – pound the football between the tackles, grind out the clock, and take what the defense gives them through the pass. Concordia would go on to score touchdowns on its first three drives of the second half.
Fullback Brett Baune scored all three touchdowns beginning with a four-yard plunge at the 5:31 mark of the third quarter to put the Cobbers on top 16-10 after the extra point failed.
Gustavus moved the ball deep into Cobber territory following the score, yet saw the drive stall out after missing a fourth-and-two conversation at the 24-yard line.
Baune took a handoff at the one-yard-line bulled his way across the goal line on the next drive, putting Concordia up 22-10 after failing on a two-point conversion. He later scored the final touchdown of the afternoon with 9:05 remaining in the game, extending the Cobber lead to 29-10 after the extra point.
Gustavus could not get the offense that moved the ball so well in the first half back on track in the second. In the second half, Gustavus had possession of the ball five times. The Gusties moved the ball into Cobber territory in each of those five possessions, yet turned the ball over on downs three times, missed a field goal, and were forced to punt.
Gustavus finished with 301 total yards – 230 passing and 71 rushing. Concordia racked up 420 yards of total offense, 302 of which on the ground and another 118 through the air.
Tim Stepka finished 19-for-40 for 230 yards and one touchdown through the air. His counterpart Griffin Neal went 12-for-17 for 118 yards passing, and also ran for 59 yards on 12 attempts. Stepka’s top target in the passing game was Phillip Butler (Jr., St. Paul, Minn.) who made six catches for 55 yards. Tight end Jordan Rudenick (Jr., Nicollet, Minn.) also made three big catches on the afternoon, totaling 57 yards.
Ben Wolf led all rushers with 95 yards on nine carries , while Baune came in second with 77 yards on 19 carries.
Jeffrey Dubose led Gustavus in rushing with 70 yards on 19 carries. He finishes the season as the team’s leading rusher with 665 yards on 135 attempts.
Leading the Gusties defensively were linebackers Lucas Kleinschrodt (Jr, Alden, Minn.) and Joe Haas (Jr., Mission, Kan.) Kleinschrodt had a game-high 14 tackles (7 solo), and Haas had 13 (4 solo). Cameron Cropsey registered two tackles for loss and also finished with a sack.