Football Drops Late Game Shootout to Bethel 35-33 Posted on September 28th, 2019 by

Dalton Thelen leaps for a touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter against Bethel. (photo courtesy of David Faulkner, SPX Sports)


SAINT PETER, Minn. – In a fourth quarter that would see 40 points scored, it would be the two-point margin that Bethel held in the quarter that would prove to be the difference in the Gustavus football teams 35-33 loss to the Royals. With the loss, the Gusties fall to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the MIAC while Bethel improves to 3-0 and 1-0 in the conference.

“We knew it was going to be a competitive game,” said Head Coach Peter Haugen. “I loved what we did early on that fourth down when we got that stop, it really changed the momentum and then we just hung in there. We had a shot at the end with a nice drive down the field but turnovers are the day. They’re always tough things but we’ll learn from it, and get back at it.”

The Gusties received the opening kickoff, but an interception early on gave the Royals the ball in Gustavus territory. The Royals made quick work of the short field and a quarterback sneak for a score put them up 7-0. After three consecutive three-and-outs between both teams the Royals gained possession and went on a 10-play, 68-yard drive capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-0.

After Bethel forced another Gustie punt, on their ensuing possession the Royals went for it on fourth and short in their own territory and the Gusties held pat and started in good field position. The Gusties capitalized when David Peal (So., Worchester, Mass.) ran one in from two yards out to put Gustavus on the board and bring the score to 14-7.

The two teams would trade possession late in the first half with neither team entering the red zone and they went to the break with the Royals on top 14-7. In the first half Bethel out-gained Gustavus in total yards 155-89.

The second half started out with the Royals in possession. Bethel completed a pass on their second play of the half, but Graham Nistler (So., St. Cloud) was able to force a fumble that would be recovered by the Gusties to give them possession. However, the next pass from Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) was intercepted and the Royals took back over. With the Royals in the red zone, Gustavus would hold them and force a field goal attempt from 32 yards out that was missed and kept it a one score game.

The two teams played stout defense the next two possessions before the Gusties took over with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter. Gustavus marched down the field in two minutes and 15 seconds as Brice Panning (Sr., Hamburg) caught his seventh touchdown of the year to even things at 14 all. Bethel responded though, using the ground game and a timely completion to march down the field and they punched in a score on the first play of the fourth quarter to go up 21-14.

Gustavus answered with a third down 36-yard completion from Veldman to Josh Kirk (Sr., Garvin, Minn.) that kept the the drive alive before Dalton Thelen (So., Cold Spring, Minn.) caught his first touchdown of the season to even things at 21. On the ensuing kickoff the Gusties executed a pooch kick that the Royals weren’t prepared for that hit one of their blockers and the Gusties recovered to get the ball at the Bethel 30.

Gustavus once again made quick work of the short field as Brayton Finch (Sr., Mount Morris, Ill.) caught a six-yard reception for a score to give the Gusties the lead. The extra point snap was botched, and the point after try was no good so the Gusties held a 27-21 lead.

The Royals made quick work on their next possession, going 65 yards in three minutes and nine seconds to score and the extra point put them ahead 28-27. After the Royals kicked off, the first Gustavus play of the ensuing possession was intercepted and returned inside the Gustavus 20. The Royals went to the ground and eventually found the end zone to go up 35-27.

With time winding down the Gusties had one last possession to try to find the end zone and a successful two-point conversion. Veldman found Panning a few times to get the ball into Bethel territory. After Veldman ran a quarterback draw on third and short to gain a first down, he found Panning again on the following play to get the ball inside the 10 yard line. On second and goal, Veldman lofted one to the left corner of the endzone and Panning made an incredible one handed catch to bring the score to 35-33. The two-point attempt was unsuccessful though. The onside kick by the Gusties gave them a chance as they were able to get the ball loose and on the ground but the Royals recovered and kneeled out the clock for the victory.

Veldman was 22-for-41 in the contest with 269 yards passing, four touchdowns, and four interceptions, while his top target Brice Panning had nine catches for 122 yards and two scores. Peal led the ground attack with 14 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, Jake Krull (Sr., Plymouth) led the team with nine tackles while Avery Bachman (Sr., Saint Peter) and Jake Boykin (Sr., Las Cruces, N.M.) both had seven with Bachman having one tackle for loss.

The Gusties will now have their bye week before they travel to Moorhead on Oct. 12 to take on Concordia.



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