Moorhead, Minn. – Trailing 38-31 late in the fourth quarter, the Gustavus football team had one final chance with one second left on the clock at the Concordia 14-yard line. A Cobber miscue on fourth down gave the Gusties one final play, but a sack by the Concordia defense would seal the game with a seven point win on Saturday afternoon at Jake Christensen Stadium. With the loss, the Gusties conclude the season with an overall record of 6-4 and an MIAC mark of 4-4. Concordia finishes 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the MIAC.
The first half quickly settled into an old fashion shootout as the two teams played to a 24-24 tie heading into halftime. Concordia running back Matt Peterson got the scoring started with a two-yard touchdown run just over four minutes into the game. The score followed a Mitch Hendricks (So., Laporte, Minn.) interception that gave the Cobbers the ball on the Gustavus three-yard line. Two plays later, Peterson was in the end zone and Concordia had a 7-0 lead.
Gustavus responded with a scoring drive of its own on the ensuing drive. The Gusties marched 74 yards in nine plays thanks in large part to the legs of senior running back Jeffrey Dubose (St. Paul, Minn.). Dubose rushed five times for 48 yards on the drive, including a two-yard touchdown run to even the score at 7-7.
Three plays later, the Cobbers extended their lead to 14-7. The three-play drive was highlighted by a 51-yard pass completion from quarterback Griffin Neal to Brandon Zylstra that put Concordia on the Gustavus 15-yard line. On the next play, Neal ran ran for the remaining 15 yards into the end zone.
The Gusties answered with another long drive, but would only get three points out of it. The possession lasted 13 plays and 7:30 of game clock. After driving 60 yards down the field, kicker Thomas Schleusener (Jr., Rapid City, S.D.) nailed a 36-yard field goal to pull Gustavus within four points with the score 14-10.
After the Gustie defense held the Cobbers to a three-and-out on the next possession, Gustavus embarked on a marathon of a drive once again. This time the Gusties marched 98 yards in nine plays and scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Hendricks to wide receiver George Buchner (Fr., Excelsior, Minn.) to take a 17-14 lead. On the drive, Jeffrey Dubose attained Gustavus football immortality, becoming the all-time rushing leader in program history. Already holding records in career touchdowns, season touchdowns, season yards, and single-game rushing yards, Dubose holds nearly every rushing record in the book.
Again the Cobbers responded with a score to regain the lead. After a big kickoff return from Brent Hentges, Concordia drove 43 yards in eight plays to score with just over two minutes left in the half on a two-yard touchdown run by Cooper Gauldin.
As if the first had not been wild enough, the final two minutes proved to be even wilder. Gustavus drove 65 yards in eight plays and 1:45 of game clock to take a 24-21 lead on a Dubose two-yard touchdown run. Concordia took over with 27 seconds left, but only needed 17 seconds to split the uprights from 27 yards out and tie the game at 24-24 heading into halftime. The field goal was set up by a 56-yard completion from Neal to Zylstra.
On Concordia’s first drive of the second half, Gustavus linebacker Joe Haas (Sr., Mission, Kan.) intercepted a Griffin Neal pass deep in Cobber territory that gave the Gusties great field position. Two plays later, Dubose carried across the goal line to give Gustavus a 31-24 lead with 10:29 to play in the third quarter.
However, the Cobbers went on to rattle off 14 unanswered points to take a 38-31 lead. A 64-yard completion set up the first score before a 36-yard touchdown pass marked the second score.
On the Cobbers final possession, they gained one first down, but a miscue on fourth down when quarterback Griffin Neal fell at his own 14-yard line and turned the ball over to the Gusties on downs.
Gustavus had one final shot to tie the game with one second remaining, but quarterback Mitch Hendricks was sacked and the final score was sealed at 38-31.
The Gustie offense finished the season with a strong showing. Gustavus gained 475 yards of total offense (217 rushing, 258 passing) on the day and dominated the time of possession 39:08 to 20:52, but capitalized on just four of its seven chances in the red zone. The Gusties were led by running back Jeffrey Dubose, who rushed for 198 yards on 35 carries and added three touchdowns. With his performance, Dubose is now the all-time leading rusher in Gustavus history. He finishes his career with 3,419 yards rushing. Mitch Hendricks completed 19 of 30 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown along with an interception. His top target was Matt Boyce (So., Excelsior, Minn.), who caught seven passes for 113 yards in the contest.
The Gustavus defense held Concordia to 365 total yards (60 rushing, 305 passing). However, the Cobbers took advantage of their red zone chances, scoring on all five of their trips inside the Gustavus 20-yard line. Griffin Neal led the way, as he completed 13 of 19 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two scores. A pair of Cobber receivers went for over 100 yards. Matt Peterson caught five passes for 107 yards, while Brandon Zylstra caught four balls for 134 yards.
The Gusties conclude the season with an overall record of 6-4 and an MIAC mark of 4-4. The winning season marks the first in Head Coach Peter Haugen’s tenure leading the Gustavus football program. The last time the Gusties tallied a winning record was in 2008 when they went 6-4 (4-4 MIAC).