Football to Host Saint John’s Saturday in MIAC Opener

Posted on September 13th, 2018 by

Josh Kirk returns a kickoff against UW-Stout. (photo courtesy of Tim Kruse)

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team welcomes Saint John’s to Hollingsworth Field at 1 p.m. Saturday to open the MIAC schedule. The Gusties are 1-1 overall after a 24-23 overtime loss to UW-Stout last week, while the No. 9-ranked Johnnies are 1-0 and last played Sept. 1 in a 27-0 win against UW-Stout.

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The Series

This afternoon’s game marks the 85th all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Saint John’s football programs. The Johnnies lead the series 49-32-3 and have won the past four meetings. Last season, the Saint John’s won 41-17 in Collegeville, Minn., scoring all of its points in the first half. Gustavus last defeated the Johnnies on Nov. 2, 2013 at Hollingsworth Field. Thomas Schleusener nailed a 37-yard field goal in double overtime to knock off the No. 22-ranked Johnnies by a margin of 23-20.

Scouting the Gusties

Gustavus enters today’s conference opener after splitting its two non-league games to start the season. After defeating Martin Luther 32-20 on Sept. 1, the Gusties suffered a 24-23 overtime loss to UW-Stout last Saturday in the home opener.

The Gusties played well on both sides of the ball through three quarters, leading 17-3 going into the fourth. UW-Stout was able to make a comeback, though, scoring the game-tying touchdown with eight seconds remaining in regulation and then blocking the would-be game-tying extra point in overtime.

Through two games this season, the Gusties average 27.5 points and 331 yards of total offense per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Gustavus has recovered a league-leading four fumbles and has totaled 207 tackles, which is also most in the MIAC. The return game has been a strength early in the season as the Black and Gold averages 23.1 yards per kick return, which ranks fourth in the conference.

Brayton Finch (Jr., Mount Morris, Ill.) has proved to be a dual-threat for the offense after two games. The junior tight end/running back leads the team in rushing with 29 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown, and is second in receiving with 10 catches for 94 yards and three scores. Brice Panning (Jr., Hamburg, Minn.) has a team-high 11 receptions and 173 yards.

Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker, Minn.) has a 119.7 quarterback efficiency after playing every snap behind center. He’s completed 40-of-76 passes for 458 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Inside linebackers Matt Berkner (Sr., Sleepy Eye, Minn.) and Jake Boykin (Jr., Las Cruces, N.M.) picked up where they left off last season, leading the team in tackles with 23 and 18, respectively.

Scouting the Johnnies

Saint John’s is fresh off its bye week, having last played Sept. 1 against UW-Stout in a 27-0 home-opening victory. The Johnnies moved up two spots to No. 9 in the latest D3football.com top 25 poll released Sunday.

Junior quarterback Jackson Erdmann is in his third season under center and started the 2018 campaign by completing 14-of-22 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns in the win against UW-Stout. The Johnnies gained 117 yards on the ground, led by Kenneth Udoibok’s 13 carries for 47 yards. Will Gallach paced the receiving corps with four catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Max Jackson led the defense with nine tackles (six solo) and an interception.

The Johnnies outgained the Blue Devils 358-213 and held the visitors to converting on just 2-of-14 third downs. The SJU defense forced the opposition to punt eight times in 12 total drives.

Saint John’s features six returners who earned All-Conference recognition last season when the team finished second in the MIAC at 7-1. Those All-MIAC returners include Erdmann, Jackson, Gillach, defensive lineman Nathan Brinker, offensive guard Dan Greenheck, and linebacker Danny Pietruszewski. Brinker, Greenheck, and Jackson were named preseason All-Americans.

 

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