Football Set for Home Opener Versus Martin Luther Saturday

Posted on September 6th, 2019 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team welcomes Martin Luther to Hollingsworth Field at 1 p.m. Saturday for its home opener. The Gusties finished 6-4 last season while the Knights finished 9-2.



THE SERIES: This afternoon’s game marks the fourth all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Martin Luther football programs with the Gusties leading the series 3-0. Last season in New Ulm, the Gusties jumped out to an early 6-0 lead before the Knights responded with two touchdowns. The Knights then held a 20-12 lead before the Gusties scored 20 unanswered points to earn a 32-20 victory. Michael Veldman completed 20-of-35 passes with three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground, while Brayton Finch caught two touchdowns and ran for another.

GUSTAVUS IN HOME OPENERS: The Gusties have compiled an all-time record of 61-37-4 in home openers in the 102-year history of the program. Last season in the home opener, Gustavus fell in a heartbreaker to UW-Stout in a 24-23 overtime bout. The Gusties took a 17-0 lead after halftime but UW-Stout scored 17 straight points, including a touchdown with eight seconds remaining in the game to even the score and send it to overtime. In overtime, UW-Stout scored on a five-play drive before Gustavus answered on its opening play. The extra point attempt, however, was blocked and sealed the victory for the Blue Devils. Gustavus claimed an 11-6 win over Mankato Normal in its first ever home game in 1902. That game was played on what is now the Nicollet County Fairgrounds on the north end of Saint Peter.

SCOUTING THE GUSTIES: The Gustavus Adolphus football team heads into the 2019 season energized following a winning season under Head Coach Peter Haugen. The Gustavus offense, which ranked fourth in the MIAC last season with an average of 399.7 yards per game, returns nine starters. The Gustavus defense, allowing 291.4 yards per game last season and ranking fifth in the MIAC, returns four starters from a year ago.

The Gustavus offense is led by quarterback Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker, Minn.) who started all 10 games last season, completing 195-of-335 (58.2 percent) passes for 2615 yards and 19 touchdowns. David Peal (So., Worcester, Mass.) returns as the team’s top running back after leading the Gusties with 113 carries in 2018. Peal gained 436 yards for an average of 3.9 and recorded eight touchdowns. Seniors Brice Panning (Sr., Hamburg, Minn.), Josh Kirk (Sr., Garvin, Minn.), and Brayton Finch (Sr., Mount Morris, Ill.) return as Veldman’s top targets. Panning led all Gusties with 48 catches for 992 yards and three touchdowns. Kirk caught 44 passes for 587 yards and Finch hauled in 39 passes for 362 yards and a team-high five touchdown grabs. Down in the trenches, all five of this year’s starting linemen started at least one game last season.

On defense, the Black and Gold return four starters, led by senior captains Jake Boykin (Sr., Las Cruces, N.M.) and Avery Bachman (Sr., Saint Peter, Minn.) at linebacker. Boykin was second on the team in tackles last year with 59 total, including four tackles for loss, while Bachman was fourth on the team with 47 tackles, including three for loss. Sam Jones (Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.) and Zeke Erickson (Sr., Clarks Grove, Minn.) return as starting defensive tackles for the Gusties. Erickson tallied six tackles for loss last year, including 3.5 sacks, while Jones boasted 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Zachary Jakes (So., Mankato, Minn.) looks to build off of his strong rookie campaign with the Black and Gold as he had 9.5 tackles for loss and a team-high four sacks.

SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS: Martin Luther finished first in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) last year with a record of 8-0 and is picked to repeat at conference champions by the UMAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Head Coach Mark Stein’s squad finished 9-2 overall and made the program’s first ever NCAA tournament appearance.

The Knights return a strong contingent from last year’s team with 15 starters back in the fold, including eight All-Conference players. Highlighting the offense is junior running back Austin DeNoyer, who was named UMAC Most Valuable Offensive Player after setting MLC single season record for rushing yards (1,086), all-purpose yards (1,442), and rushing attempts (213). He also led the conference with 16 total touchdowns. All-UMAC offensive linemen Carrington Cunningham and Derek Gulrud will lead the front line alongside All-Conference tight end Mike Radue. The Knights will see a new starting quarterback under center in Ethan Aguilar.

The Knights return four All-UMAC performers on the defensive side of the ball – Keith Brassow and Dan Gensmer on the defensive line, Tristan Pankow at linebacker, and Ben Arndt in the defensive backfield. Brassow and Gensmer led the team in quarterback pressure last year with 7.5 sacks each. They also combined for 31 tackles for loss. Pankow was second on the team in tackles with 62, including an interception, while Arndt had a team-high six interceptions and 12 pass breakups.



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