Football Upsets No. 15 Wartburg 27-18

Posted on September 11th, 2021 by

Michael Veldman became Gustavus's all-time passing leader in the win over Wartburg.


SAINT PETER, Minn. – Three second half touchdown passes and a number of key defensive stops late in the fourth quarter propelled the Gustavus football team to a 27-18 upset over No. 15-ranked Wartburg College on Saturday at Hollingsworth Field. The Gusties improve to 2-0 overall while the Knights drop to 1-1.

On Gustavus’s first possession of the third quarter, trailing 10-7, Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) found Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) for a 77-yard touchdown. The 77-yard strike made Veldman the Gustavus football program’s all-time passing yards leader, surpassing Jordan Stolp (2004-07), who finished his career with 8,496 yards. Veldman finished the day 14-of-29 for 294 yards and four touchdowns, bringing his career passing total to 8,713 yards.

Both teams traded three-and-outs on their first possessions of the game, leading to an impressive eight-minute, 16-play, 95-yard scoring drive by the Gusties. Veldman completed the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley). Andrew Abegglen’s (Jr., Mound) extra point was good and the Gusties led 7-0 with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Wartburg put together a 17-play, 80-yard drive, but the Gustie defense held strong in the red zone and held the Knights to a 17-yard field goal with 5:21 left in the half.

The Gusties were forced to punt on their next drive and the Knights quickly moved up the field, scoring on a nine-yard touchdown pass with just seven seconds on the clock and carried a 10-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. The second quarter was all Wartburg as they held possession for nearly 11 minutes and held the Gusties to -3 total yards.

The momentum shifted in favor of the Gusties in the third quarter as Veldman found Kipper for the 77-yard record-setting touchdown pass 3:48 into the half, giving the Gusties a lead they would not give up.

Wartburg was forced to punt twice and the Gusties once before the home team put together a seven-play, 82-yard scoring drive with 1:44 left in the third. Veldman connected with Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) for a 59-yard touchdown, giving the Gusties a 21-10 advantage. The Gusties outscored the Knights 14-0 and out-gained them 217-84 in the third frame.

Wartburg kept it a close ballgame by converting on a fourth-down from the Gustie 13-yard line, and completing the two-point conversion, cutting the deficit to 21-18.

Both defenses buckled down in the fourth quarter with each team not scoring on three consecutive possessions. Kaleb Scott (Sr., Los Angeles, Calif.) broke up a pivotal fourth-down pass, setting the Gusties up at the Wartburg 29-yard line. Facing fourth down-and-eight, the Gusties went for it and Veldman connected with Breitbach for a 27-yard touchdown for a 27-18 lead with 1:47 left in regulation.

Wartburg was driving into Gustie territory on the ensuing possession, but Andrey Denson (So., El Paso, Texas) sealed the victory with an interception at the five-yard line.

“That last touchdown kind of sealed it for us. You weren’t completely sure, but to execute in that moment was great,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “And I’m so proud of our defense. They played their tails off against a really good football team.”

The two teams produced nearly the same amount of offense, with the Gusties out-gaining the Knights 325-324 in total yards. Rushing was not the strong suit for either team as Gustavus was limited to 31 yards and the Knights at 41 yards.

“We didn’t run the ball particularly well and we knew it was going to be tough,” Haugen said. “Their defense is built around stopping the run. But if you’re not running some then they can start teeing off, but I liked our balance. We did a few good things in the running game but made a couple really big-time plays in the passing game.”

Breitbach hauled in a team-high six catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns, while Thelen made three grabs for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) led a strong defensive performance with a game-high 13 tackles (nine solo). Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato) was also productive on the defensive front, adding nine tackles and a sack.

Gustavus will enjoy its bye week and then hosts Concordia on Sept. 25 for Homecoming.


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