Football Welcomes No. 15 Wartburg Saturday for Home Opener

Posted on September 10th, 2021 by

Rohee Konde runs for one his two touchdowns at Buena Vista last Saturday. (photo courtesy of Zoe Haugen)

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team welcomes No. 15-ranked Wartburg for a 1 p.m. non-conference matchup Saturday at Hollingsworth Field in the home opener. Both teams enter the contest 1-0 overall after winning their Week 1 games. The Gusties defeated Buena Vista 80-58 while the Knights beat Monmouth 44-3.


The Series

Sarturday’s game marks the third all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Wartburg football programs with the Knights leading the series 2-0. Wartburg won the last matchup 26-21 on Sept. 10, 2011 in Waverly, Iowa. The Gusties jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter but the Knights responded with 17 unanswered points before halftime. A Phillip Butler 30-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter put the Gusties back on top 21-17. Gustavus held a 21-20 lead going into the fourth quarter, but a blocked punt by the Knights gave them the ball at the Gustie eight-yard line. Three plays later, Wartburg completed an eight-yard pass for the go-ahead score.

Scouting the Gusties

After not playing a snap since Nov. 16, 2019, the Gustavus football team treated its fans with an offensive shootout last Saturday night, defeating Buena Vista University 80-58 in the season opener, setting a program record for points in a game. The 138 total points tied the NCAA Division III record for most points scored by both teams in regulation (Brockport defeated Hartwick 70-68 on Nov. 22, 2008).

David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.) and Rohee Konde (So., Hopkins) led a productive ground attack that tallied the most rushing yards since Sept. 22, 2012 when the Gusties ran for 320 against St. Olaf. 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 combined for 247 yards against Hamline in 2012.

Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) finished the night completing 20-of-34 passes for 335 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Seven different receivers had a reception, led by Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) and Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring). Thelen made five grabs for 72 yards and two touchdowns, while Kipper had six catches for 68 yards. Carter Kopet (Sr., Cleveland) made the big plays with three catches for 85 yards and three scores, and Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley) hauled in two passes for 87 yards.

On special teams, Andrew Abegglen (Jr., Mound) 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 defense with seven tackles. Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato), Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna), and Sam Jones (Sr., Jacksonville) each had a sack. William Hawkins (Fy., New Orleans, La.), Ezekiel Sundberg (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.), and Dekam each hauled in an interception.

Through Week 1 of the NCAA Division III football season, Gustavus has the second-ranked offense in the nation with 635 total yards of offense. The Gusties also rank second in the country with 80 points. The rushing offense is ranked 12th at 300 yards and the passing offense is 23rd with 335 yards. Despite using a quick punt from the quarterback on all three punt attempts last week, Veldman ranks second in the nation with a net punt average of 52.3 yards.

Scouting the Knights

Wartburg opened its 2021 season last Saturday with a convincing 44-3 win over Monmouth (Ill.) at home. The Knights, ranked No. 15 according to the latest poll, scored 30 unanswered points in the second quarter en route to the lopsided victory.

Quarterback Jace Moore led the Knights offense, completing 8-of-12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, but more notably rushing for three scores. Eight different receivers caught a pass, led by Darius Whaley with four receptions for 57 yards. JoJo McNair added two catches for 44 yards and a touchdown, and Drake George had two receptions for 42 yards and a score.

Hunter Clasen led the ground game with 10 carries for 68 yards. Bennett Goettsch had 12 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Wartburg accumulated 414 yards of total offense – 194 on the ground and 220 through the air.

Eli Barrett led a stout defense with eight tackles, including one for a loss of seven yards. Trey Heffner was right behind with seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. The Knights defense held Monmouth to 250 total yards and forced two turnovers. It also stopped Monmouth on 14-of-16 third down attempts.

The Knights are coming off a 2019 season where they finished 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the American Rivers Conference, claiming a share of the league championship. Wartburg defeated Hope College 41-3 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before losing to UW-Whitewater 41-28 in the second round.

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Gusties Take To Gridiron for 104th Season: The Gustavus football team is in its 104th season this year after not having a season in 2020 due to the pandemic. Over the previous 103 seasons, the Gusties have compiled an overall record of 510-342-21, including a record of 238-135-8 in Saint Peter. With 22 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) championships, Gustavus has claimed the second-most league titles in the 100-year history of the conference. Only Saint John’s (34) has claimed more MIAC championships.

Follow The Gusties On KNUJ: KNUJ AM 860 out of New Ulm, Minn. once again broadcasts all 10 Gustavus regular season games this year. The voice of the Golden Gusties, Tom Wheeler, handles the play-by-play duties for the 14th consecutive season. Wheeler is once again joined by 1984 Gustavus graduate and former Gustie football player Ken Ericson on the live call of this year’s games. Fans can listen to the KNUJ broadcasts on the Internet through the Gustavus Athletics website. Gustavus provides a high definition video stream of all home games for viewing on your computer, tablet, or smart phone through GameCentral by Stretch Internet. GameCentral is available at

Gustavus In Home Openers: The Gusties have compiled an all-time record of 62-37-4 in home openers in the 103-year history of the program. In 2019’s home opener, Gustavus cruised to a 50-19 victory over Martin Luther. The Knights took a 6-0 lead on their second possession of the game, but the Gusties responded with 36 unanswered points in the convincing win. 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.

Veldman Climbs The Passing Ranks: Michael Veldman threw for 335 yards last Saturday, passing Mitch Hendricks (2013-15) for second all-time in the Gustavus record book for career passing yards. Hendicks has 8.410 yards and Veldman now has 8,419 yards. Jordan Stolp (2004-07) holds the school passing record with 8,496 yards, meaning Veldman needs 78 yards today to set the record.

All He Does Is Catch Touchdowns: In his first career game as a receiver for the Gusties, Carter Kopet did his best Randy Moss on Thanksgiving Day, 1998 impression by catching three passes that all went for touchdowns. Kopet’s three receptions totaled 85 yards and came on three consecutive possessions. The first was an 18-yard connection with 7:44 left in the third quarter; the second was a seven-yarder with 45 seconds left in the third; and the third was a 60-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Kopet is the only Gustavus receiver in recorded history to score touchdowns on the first three receptions of his career.

Kicking Perfection: Andrew Abegglen set a program record with 11 extra points made in Saturday’s 80-58 win at Buena Vista. He went a perfect 11-for-11 on the extra point, breaking the previous record of nine held by Brendan Boche in 2015 against Carleton. Abegglen added a 24-yard field goal, making him a perfect 12-for-12 through the uprights.



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