Turnovers The Difference, Football Suffers First Loss To Saint John’s 29-19

Posted on October 18th, 2014 by

The Gustavus football team suffered a 29-19 setback to Saint John's on Saturday afternoon at Hollingsworth Field.

St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus football team suffered its first loss of the season to Saint John’s University 29-19 on Saturday afternoon at Hollingsworth Field. Although Gustavus led 13-7 at halftime, Saint John’s outscored the Gusties 22-6 over the final 30 minutes. Gustavus drops to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the MIAC, while Saint John’s improves to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the MIAC.

Turnovers and red zone scoring turned out to be the difference. Gustavus committed four turnovers (3 interceptions, 1 fumble) and went 3-for-6 in the red zone, while Saint John’s didn’t commit a turnover  and was a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone.

With a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown-scoring drive on its opening possession of the game, the red-hot Gustie offense picked up right where it left off the first six weeks of the season. On 3rd-and-goal from the six-yard-line, Mitch Hendricks (Jr., Bemidji, Minn.) found Matt Boyce (Jr., Excelsior, Minn.) on a slant for the pair’s first of two touchdown connections. With Thomas Schleusener’s (Sr., Rapid City, S.D.) extra point, Gustavus led 7-0 with 10:18 left in the first quarter.

After Gustavus’s defense forced a three-and-out on Saint John’s ensuing possession, the offense took control and put points on the board once again. After a 15-play, 56-yard drive stalled on Saint John’s nine-yard-line, Schleusener burred a 26-yard field goal to give the Black and Gold a 10-0 lead with 1:56 left in the opening quarter.

Andrew Norri deflects a would-be touchdown away from Matt Boyce late in the fourth quarter.

Andrew Norri deflects a would-be touchdown away from Matt Boyce late in the fourth quarter.

Saint John’s was able to snap Gustavus’s momentum on its next drive with a touchdown of its own. On 2nd-and-goal from the one-yard-line, Johnnie running back Sam Sura went up-and-over the pile and into the end zone for the touchdown. With Alexi Johnson’s extra point, Saint John’s cut the gap to 10-7 with 11:39 left in the half.

Although it looked as if Gustavus was on its way to another touchdown with second-and-goal at the Johnnie five-yard-line, Saint John’s came up with the first of its four turnovers when Trevor Warner picked off Mitch Hendricks in the end zone.

Despite the momentum swing, the Gustie offense bounced back and was able to add a field goal to their lead with :26 seconds remaining in the half. Capping the 12-play, 59-yard drive was Schleusener who split the uprights from 27-yards out to bring the score to 13-7, which it remained until the clock ran out.

By halftime, Gustavus had already racked up 315 total yards (251 pass, 64 rush) on 55 plays. Saint John’s had just 107 yards (42 pass, 65 rush) on 25 plays. Hendricks was 22-for-37 for 251 yards with his top targets being Matt and Gabriel Boyce (Jr., Excelsior, Minn.). Matt had six catches (one of which being a 61-yard post) for 111 yards, while Gabriel had seven catches for 76 yards.

Saint John’s came out of the locker room after halftime with one goal in mind – establish the run. The Johnnies did that. Going to work with the option and attacking the edge of Gustavus’s defense was quarterback Nick Martin and running back Sam Sura. On the opening drive of the second half, the Johnnies put together a nine-play, 53-yard scoring-drive that was capped by an Alexi Johnson field goal at 10:59 to put the cut the Gustavus advantage to 13-10.

On the ensuing drive, Gustauvs’s Luke Martinez (Jr., Lenexa, Kan.) fumbled at the his own 39-yard-line, and Saint John’s Sean Tillman picked up the loose ball and brought it back to the 32.

After the fumble, the Johnnies went back to work on the ground. After marching 31 yards on six straight running plays, Sam Sura took an option pitch from Martin and strolled into the end zone untouched to give Saint John’s its first lead of the afternoon.   Johnson’s extra point brought the score to 17-13 with 6:34 left in the third quarter.

Trailing by seven points (20-13) after a 29-yard field goal by Johnson at the 14:56 mark of the fourth quarter, Gustavus got back into rhythm and put together an eight-play, 76-yard touchdown-scoring drive. Hendricks connected with Matt Boyce up the seam on a 26-yard skinny post to bring the Gusties within one point down 20-19 with 11:47 left to play in the game.

Luke Martinez totaled a season-best 145 all-purpose yards.

Luke Martinez totaled a season-best 145 all-purpose yards.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game occurred on the extra point following Boyce’s touchdown. With a strong push up the middle, Schleusener’s kick was blocked by Johnnie Sam Brynestad, picked up and then returned more than 80 yards to the house by Trevor Warner for two points. Instead of a 20-20 score, Gustavus now found itself trailing 22-19.

Saint John’s built on the energy of the blocked extra point and put together a touchdown-scoring drive that went 75 yards on 10 plays and featured nothing but carries by the Johnnie backfield. Capping the drive was Martin who held on to the option sweep and walked untouched into the end zone. Johnson’s extra point extended the gap to 29-19 with 7:15 on the clock.

Although Gustavus drove the ball with efficiency on its final two possessions of the game, Saint John’s defense was able to put to rest any comeback hopes with a pair of deep-territory interceptions by cornerback Andrew Norri. Norri first picked off Hendricks on a tipped pass at the one-yard-line, then later snagged a ball intended for Matt Boyce in the back of the end zone. Norri also recorded two pass breakups and led the Johnnie defense in tackles with nine (9 solo) on the afternoon.

Hendricks finished 31-for-54 for 356 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Matt Boyce had nine catches for 158 yards with two touchdowns, while Gabriel Boyce caught nine passes for 89 yards.

Through the air, Johnnie quarterback Nick Martin completed three of his nine passes. Josh Bungum had all three catches for 56 yards.

Of Saint John’s 356 yards of total offense, 300 were on the ground. Leading the way was Sam Sura who carried 32 times for 205 yards with two touchdowns. Martin finished next in line with 55 yards on 16 carries.

The Gusties added 110 rushing yards to Hendrick’s passing total to give them 466 total yards. Luke Martinez led the way on the ground with 83 yards on 14 carries and also caught seven passes for a 62 yards.

Although Saint John’s was just 3-for-14 on third down, it converted on all four of its fourth down tries. The Johnnies won the time of possession battle 32:36-to-27:24, holding onto the ball for more than 20 minutes of the second half.

The Gustavus football team will be off next weekend before returning to action on Saturday, Nov. 1 when it hosts Bethel University in the team’s home finale.

Box Score


One Comment

  1. gustavus alumni says:

    Qb struggling why didn’t they run more. Big back picking up big yards on every carry