Football Suffers First Loss Of Season, 49-27 To Saint John’s Posted on October 17th, 2015 by

Matt Boyce leaps for one of his 11 catches against Saint John's.


COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – The No. 20-ranked Gustavus football team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, falling 49-27 to No. 14/15-ranked Saint John’s. The Gusties drop to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Johnnies improve to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the MIAC.

The Gustie offense was held to its lowest marks all season as it accumulated 309 total yards of offense (245 passing, 64 rushing), while the Johnnies amassed 489 total yards of offense (215 passing, 274 rushing). The SJU rushing attack proved to be the difference as it won the time of possession battle 34:03-to-25:57 and its All-American running back Sam Sura rushed 33 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns.

Gustavus held a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter, but the momentum shifted in Saint John’s favor and the Johnnies were able to hold off the Gusties the rest of the way.

“They made a couple key third down conversions and we didn’t,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “That was the tough part right there. We had some opportunities but [Saint John’s] was doing some good stuff and we just couldn’t match them today.”

The game started out as a defensive battle as the Gusties went three-and-out on their first drive, the Johnnies then punted on the fifth play of their first drive, followed by another three-and-out by the Gusties on their second possession.

The Gustie defense made a key play on the first play of the Johnnies’ next drive as Iker Ortiz (Jr., Cancun, Mexico) recovered a fumble, giving the Gusties the ball at the SJU 35-yard line.

Leeland Lauti rushes the ball early in the first quarter. He later scored on a one-yard touchdown.

Leeland Lauti rushes the ball early in the first quarter. He later scored on a one-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing Gustavus possession, Mitch Hendricks (Sr., Laporte, Minn.) connected with Matt Boyce (Sr., Excelsior, Minn.) for 16 yards and a crucial third-down conversion. Six plays later, Leeland Lauti (So., Ewa, Hawaii) finished off a tough one-yard run for the game’s first touchdown with :39 seconds left in the first quarter.

Saint John’s then started at its own 29-yard line and capped a 10-play drive with a seven-yard touchdown run. The Gusties went seven plays on their next drive, but were stalled and forced to punt.

The Johnnies got one first down on the following possession, but were forced to punt on the second set of downs. On the punt, the snap went past the punter, which was recovered by Sergio De Pablo Velez (Jr., Cancun, Mexico) at the Johnnie 11-yard line and returned to the one-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Hendricks connected with Matt Boyce for a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead after the Brendan Boche (So., Lakeville, Minn.) extra point.

With 9:14 left in the second quarter, the Johnnies started their next drive and began to shift the momentum in their favor. SJU capped a nine-play drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to tie the score 14-14. On the ensuing possession, the Gusties were forced to punt after a three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Johnnies at their own 32-yard line. On the seventh play of the drive, Saint John’s took its first lead of the game on a two-yard touchdown rush.

George Buchner (Jr., Excelsior, Minn.) gave the Gusties great field position with a 45-yard kickoff return down to the Gustavus 46, but the offense needed to work quickly with just :30 seconds left in the half. With :24 seconds left in the clock, Hendricks’ pass was intercepted at the goal line and the Johnnies held a 21-14 advantage at halftime.

Saint John’s started the third quarter with a pair of touchdowns on its first two drives of the half to take a comfortable 35-14 lead with 5:51 remaining in the quarter. The Gusties responded on their next drive with an seven-play drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown fade pass from Hendricks to Gabe Boyce (Sr., Excelsior, Minn.) in the back left corner of the end zone. After three quarters, Saint John’s led 35-21.

It didn’t take long for the Johnnies to increase their lead as they scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 34-yard touchdown run. Gustavus drove the ball from its own 22-yard line all the way down to the SJU 13, but on the 14th play of the drive the Gusties were unable to convert on a fourth down attempt and turned the ball over on downs.

The Gustie defense then forced a three-and-out, but the punt was muffed and the Johnnies regained possession at the Gustavus 24-yard line. Two plays later, the Johnnies found the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown pass.

Gustavus would not go quietly, though, and answered with a nine-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hendricks to Gabe Boyce. The extra point failed and the score read 49-27, which remained as the final.

Hendricks finished the day going 26-of-40 with 224 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Matt Boyce was the top target, hauling in 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Jakes (Jr., North Mankato, Minn.) led the defense with a career-high 15 tackles (five solo).

“The message to the team was to stay positive. It’s not an option,” Haugen said. “It’s a long season, but I know our guys will come back really well. It was a frustrating day for all of us, but the biggest message is to stay positive and just continue to work hard.”

The Gusties head into their bye week and return to action Oct. 31 at Bethel University (4-2, 3-1 MIAC), who was idle today.


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