First Half Deficit Proves Too Much, Football Falls At Bethel 32-17

Posted on October 15th, 2016 by

The Gusties and Royals battle at the line of scrimmage. (photo courtesy of Nathan Klok)


ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – The Gustavus football team couldn’t contain the No. 1 offense in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on Saturday afternoon and a late rally wasn’t enough in a 32-17 loss at Bethel University. The loss drops the Gusties to 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the MIAC, while the Royals improve to 3-4 overall and 3-2 in the league.

“Bethel’s ability to execute on third down in the first quarter really hurt us,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “We put them in tough situations as far as distance on third downs and they executed them. That was disappointing, but when we got to third down we struggled and there was not a lot of offensive rhythm.”

Bethel did all of its damage in the first half, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and 20 in the second, while holding the Gusties to a field goal for a 32-3 advantage at halftime. The Royals methodically moved down the field on their first drive of the day, resulting in a 13-play, 75-yard series capped by a one-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed. Bethel forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Gustie drive and continued to put together a six-play scoring drive, ending on a 58-yard scamper by Jake Marsh.

Gustavus went on an impressive 19-play drive late in the first quarter and into the second, but had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Brendan Boche (Jr., Lakeville, Minn.). The home team was able to put points on the board yet again on its third drive of the afternoon, going 68 yards in nine plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run to take a 19-3 lead at the 10:03 mark in the second quarter.

The Gusties’ next possession resulted in a three-and-out, giving the Royals the ball back with good field position at their own 44-yard line. Four plays later, Bethel found the endzone for the fourth time in as many tries, taking a 25-3 lead with 6:31 remaining in the half. On Gustavus’s ensuing possession, a crazy turn of events took place with three turnovers in as many plays. The Gusties fumbled the ball at midfield, which was recovered by the Royals, who then threw an interception on the next play, which was immediately followed by an interception thrown by the Gusties, giving Bethel the ball at the Gustavus 20-yard line. The very next play, Bethel connected for a 20-yard touchdown pass and took a 32-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The two squads traded a pair of possessions in the third quarter, leading up to an Iker Ortiz (Sr., Cancun, Mexico) interception returned seven yards to the Bethel eight-yard line. Two plays later, Sam Archer (So., Zimmerman, Minn.) found the endzone on a six-yard run. The Boche extra point was good and the Gusties trailed 32-10 after three quarters.

The Gusties received their third interception of the day early in the fourth quarter as Avery Bachman (Fy., St. Peter, Minn.) picked off a pass and returned it 27 yards to the Bethel 10-yard line. But the Royals goal-line defense stood tall and denied the Gusties three times from their own one-yard line forcing a turnover on downs.

The Black and Gold scored the final touchdown of the day on an eight-yard rush by DaiVon Poole (Jr., San Angelo, Texas), capping a four-play, 29-yard drive after a muffed punt return by the Royals. But the Royals were able to run out the clock on the next possession to seal the victory.

“I’m proud of the guys; we really hung in there and were patient with the game plan and that served us well because we had opportunities in the second half,” Haugen said. “We had an opportunity in the red zone and if we convert it’s a game that goes right down to the wire. I give our players a lot of credit for hanging in there and not quitting.”

The final score was one of few big differences on the stat sheet as the Gusties kept close with the Royals in a number of areas throughout the game. Bethel outgained the Gusties 386-299 in total offense, edging them 172-141 on the ground and 214-158 through the air. Gustavus committed eight penalties for a total of 82 yards, while the Royals were flagged seven times for 58 yards. One deciding factor was Gustavus’s inability to convert on third down, reaching the line to gain 5-of-16 times on third down. Bethel was 7-of-12 on third down attempts.

In his first game played since Week 2, Luke Martinez (Sr. Lenexa, Kan.) led the ground game with 24 carries for 63 yards. Archer got his first start under center since Week 3 and completed 15-of-30 passes for 158 yards and two interceptions. Hunter Johnson (Jr., Cannon Falls, Minn.) was once again the top target with three catches for 51 yards. Nathan Hajder (Jr., Rogers, Minn.) led the defense with nine tackles, including two for a loss of six yards.

Gustavus returns home next Saturday for a showdown with No. 10/12 nationally ranked Saint John’s, who defeated Carleton 62-0 today. Nine new Gustavus Athletics Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at halftime.


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