Football Sets Program Scoring Record, Beats Buena Vista 80-58

Posted on September 4th, 2021 by


STORM LAKE, Iowa – After not playing a snap since Nov. 16, 2019, the Gustavus football team treated its fans with an offensive shootout Saturday night, defeating Buena Vista University 80-58 in the season opener, setting a program record for points in a game. The Gusties rushed for 300 yards – the most in nine years – and 635 total yards of offense.

“Wins are hard to come by, so we were very thankful,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “I mean, that’s a huge number [80 points]. And honestly, we needed every one of them today. And so there’s one thing to score 80 points and it be a blowout. There’s another thing to score that many points and have it be a pretty competitive game. And it was a pretty competitive game throughout. We’re really thankful that we were able to operate coming out of that long of a break and be that productive.”

Buena Vista started the game with the edge, forcing the Gusties to go three-and-out on the opening drive. The Beavers responded with a 75-yard touchdown on a quarterback-keeper on the third play of the drive for a 6-0 lead with 11:37 left in the first quarter.

Gustavus moved the ball well on the following possession, highlighted by a 30-yard rush by David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.), but an interception at the Beaver 10-yard line ended the drive.

Four plays into the ensuing Beaver possession, the Gusties returned the favor with a turnover as Sam Jones (Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.) forced a fumble and Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) recovered at the Beaver 30. Two plays later, Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) found Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) in the corner of the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Andrew Abegglen’s (Jr., Mound) extra point was good and the Gusties took a 7-6 lead with 8:02 remaining in the first quarter.

The home team answered on the following possession with an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run for a 13-7 lead with 5:39 remaining in the first quarter.

The Gusties were set to punt on their fourth drive, but a bad snap gave the Beavers the ball at the one-yard line. The Gustie defense came up with a big goal-line stand, though, forcing the home team to settle for a 17-yard field goal and a 16-7 advantage with two minutes left in the first.

Kaleb Scott (Sr., Los Angeles, Calif.) took the following kickoff 49 yards and into Beaver territory. Veldman found Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley) for a 35-yard strike and Rohee Konde (So., Hopkins) punched in a five-yard touchdown rush, cutting the deficit to 16-14 after the Abegglen extra point. The score stood at 16-14 after the first quarter.

Gustavus started the second quarter with a short field and Veldman connected with Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) for a 27-yard reception down to the BVU 16. Peal then completed the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run and with Abegglen’s extra point the Gusties went back on top 21-16 at the 14:19 mark.

The scoring shootout slowed down for a brief moment until Veldman found Thelen on a fourth down for their second connection in the endzone with 7:29 left in the first half, taking a 28-16 lead. The Beavers answered with an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took up 3:27.

Then the haymakers came out. Konde took the first handoff of the drive 75 yards up the left sideline to give the Gusties a 35-23 lead with 3:46 on the clock. And on the first play of the ensuing Beaver possession, the home team took a slant pass 72 yards for a touchdown to make the score 35-30 with 3:28 remaining.

Buena Vista threatened again on their next drive but William Hawkins (Fy., New Orleans, La.) came up with an interception at the Gustie 12-yard line.

Five plays later, Veldman found Breitbach for a 52-yard reception down to the Beaver three-yard line. But the Gusties had to settle for a 24-yard Abegglen field goal and took a 38-30 lead into the locker room at half.

Buena Vista started the second half with the ball and was driving into Gustie territory before Dekam had a sack, forced fumble, and recovery 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Veldman connected with Thelen for a 35-yarder. Peal then found pay dirt from eight yards out to give the Gusties a 45-30 lead with 13:13 left in the third.

The home squad answered with a six-play, 77-yard drive, highlighted by a 43-yard touchdown pass to make the score 45-37 at the 11:10 mark.

On the seventh play of the next Gustie drive, Carter Kopet (Sr., Cleveland) scored his first career receiving touchdown on an 18-yard connection from Veldman, giving the Gusties a 52-37 advantage with 7:44 remaining in the third. But once again, the Beavers had an answer as they went 65 yards in nine plays with a four-yard rushing touchdown, cutting the lead to 52-44 with 5:18 on the clock.

The Gusties then had their longest drive of the night, going 86 yards in eight plays, capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass from Veldman to Kopet. The drive was highlighted by Peal’s consecutive carries of 18 and 49 yards. The Gusties led 59-44 with 45 seconds left in the third and carried that into the fourth quarter.

On the first play of the final frame, Veldman found Kopet once again for a 60-yard catch-and-run, giving the Black and Gold a 66-44 lead just five seconds into the quarter. The Beavers would not go quietly, though, and answered with a 10-play, 65-yard drive, finished with a 23-yard touchdown pass to make the score 66-51 with 10:29 remaining in regulation.

The teams traded punts on their next possessions before Buena Vista snagged an interception and turned it into a touchdown pass three plays later, cutting the Gustie lead to 66-58 with 5:15 on the clock.

The Gustavus defense came up big at the right time as Ezekiel Sundberg (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.) returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown, increasing the lead to 73-58 with 2:44 remaining. On the ensuing Beaver drive, Dekam snatched another interception and returned it 28 yards down to the BVU four-yard line. Peal then punched in the final blow with a four-yard touchdown, his third of the game, for an 80-58 lead, which stood for a final.

Peal and Konde led a productive rushing attack that accumulated 300 yards on the ground. Peal rushed 22 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns, while Konde had eight carries for 107 yards and two scores. It’s the first time Gustavus had two rushers go over 100 yards each since Jeffrey Dubose and Muresek Mena tallied 247 combined yards against Hamline in 2012.

“That’s really a great tandem,” Haugen said. “They complement each other well and they’re very gifted athletes. They catch the ball well out of the backfield. So, to have two guys like that means you’re always fresh.” 

Veldman finished the night completing 20-of-34 passes for 335 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Seven different receivers had a reception, led by Kipper and Thelen. Thelen made five grabs for 72 yards and two touchdowns, while Kipper had six catches for 68 yards. Kopet made the big plays with three catches for 85 yards and three scores, and Breitbach hauled in two passes for 87 yards.

“That group was really good today,” Haugen said. “Thelen made some really electric plays along with Jake Breitbach, who makes big time plays as well. And then we put Kopet in our kickoff return, and he does a great job there. And then all of a sudden he goes and scores three touchdowns. To see a young man who’s been through so much from an injury standpoint now, that success was really there. The guys were so happy for him.”

On special teams, Abegglen was perfect on the day, making all 11 extra points and a 24-yard field goal. His 11 extra points broke Brendan Boche’s single game record of nine set in 2015 against Carleton.

Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa) led the team with seven tackles. Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato), Dekam, and Jones each had a sack. Hawkins, Sundberg, and Dekam made the team’s three interceptions.

“We are a work in progress defensively. You know, there’s no question about it,” Haugen said. “It’s got to get better. There’s no doubt about it. Today, it was feast or famine and that’s not going to be the formula to win every week. But I’ll tell you, we got five turnovers and we got a couple at a really key time. And that can’t go unnoticed. The big one at the end with Sundberg to kind of seal the game. But we got plenty of work to do in all three phases and it’s going to get a lot tougher this week.”

Gustavus hosts Wartburg at 1 p.m. next Saturday for its home opener. The Knights defeated Monmouth 44-3 today in their season opener.


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