Football Loses to No. 9 Saint John’s 45-13

Posted on September 15th, 2018 by


SAINT PETER, Minn. – In the first home night game since 1988, the Gustavus football team dropped a 45-13 decision to No. 9 Saint John’s on Saturday night at Saint Peter High School’s Floyd B. Johnson Memorial Field. The Gusties drop to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC, while the Johnnies move to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the league. The game was moved back to 7 p.m. from 1 p.m. due to afternoon heat and humidity levels that would have warranted significant delays.

A 15-yard throw-back pass from Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker, Minn.) to Brayton Finch (Jr., Mount Morris, Ill.) midway through the second quarter brought the Gustie deficit to 17-13, but the Johnnies were able to add another touchdown with 2:24 remaining in the half and held the home team scoreless the rest of the way. A 92-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown put the game out of reach early in the fourth.

“In the fourth quarter, we need to kick a field goal and that gets us within two scores, but it gets blocked and goes back the other way. There are some holes in our kicking game right now,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “Our kick coverage was spectacular tonight. Kickoff return was okay and we punted okay, but the PAT and field goals have been inconsistent so we’ll have to figure that out.”

Tonight’s result may not have been favorable for Gustavus, but it was more than a game. It was an event that brought together the Gustavus and Saint Peter communities. Gusties and “townies,” the affectionate name for the locals, enjoyed an atmosphere that may never happen again. It was the first night game Gustavus has hosted since Sept. 10, 1988 when it beat UW-Superior 45-14 under the lights of old Hollingsworth Field.

Gustavus and Saint Peter High School also rekindled a field-sharing use that dates back 89 years. Gustavus had the first lighted football field in Minnesota (and perhaps the Midwest) and played the first night game in 1929. That same year, Saint Peter High School used the field and gained the honor of playing the first night high school game in Minnesota.

Under Saturday night’s lights, the Gusties scored their first touchdown of the day on their second drive as Veldman found Josh Kirk (Jr., Garvin, Minn.) on a five-yard pass, capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive highlighted by a 50-yard Brice Panning (Jr., Hamburg, Minn.) reception.

The Johnnies carried a 24-13 lead into halftime and outscored the home team 21-0 in the second half. Saint John’s outgained the Black and Gold 409-313. Gustavus did well on third down, converting on 10-of-18 opportunities.

Veldman completed 19-of-34 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Kirk hauled in a game-high eight receptions for 63 yards and a score, while Panning made four catches for 140 yards. David Peal (Fy., Worcester, Mass.) led a pedestrian rushing attack with six carries for 20 yards. For the third consecutive game, Matt Berkner (Sr., Sleepy Eye, Minn.) led the defense with 10 tackles.

“I’m proud of the way our guys competed all day long,” Haugen said. “No question that we’ve improved from week one. We just need to eliminate mistakes.”

Gustavus travels to Bethel for a 1 p.m. MIAC matchup next Saturday.


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