Football Welcomes Concordia for Homecoming Saturday

Posted on September 24th, 2021 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – Fresh off its bye week, the Gustavus football team is set to host Concordia at 1 p.m. Saturday on Homecoming. The Gusties enter the MIAC opener 2-0 while the Cobbers are 1-1.

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The Series

Saturday’s game marks the 89th all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Concordia football programs with the Gusties leading the series 47-39-2. Gustavus has won the last two meetings, most recently claiming a thrilling 35-28 victory in Moorhead on Oct. 12, 2019. Trailing by one with 30 seconds to play in regulation, Michael Veldman scrambled left from his own 22-yard line and unleashed a deep pass that traveled 50 yards in the air and was caught by Josh Kirk on the left sideline for a 78-yard touchdown pass. The Gusties outscored the Cobbers 21-7 in the fourth quarter en route to a 35-28 win.

Scouting the Gusties

Gustavus looks to keep its momentum going after an impressive 27-18 win over then-No. 15 Wartburg on Sept. 11. After trailing 10-7 at halftime, Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) threw three second half touchdown passes and made a number of key defensive stops late in the fourth quarter to complete the non-conference season 2-0. Gustavus outgained the Knights 330-324 and did not commit a turnover.

Through two games this season, Gustavus is averaging 53.5 points per game which ranks fifth in NCAA Division III and first in the MIAC. The Gusties are averaging 480.0 yards of total offense, ranking second in the league. The bulk of the offense is generated through the passing game as the Gusties rank third in the MIAC with 314.5 passing yards per game. The ground game is also strong with 165.5 yards per game, ranking fourth in the conference. The Gusties have done a great job at finishing drives as they are a perfect 9-for-9 at scoring in the red zone.

Early in the season, Veldman is establishing himself as an elite quarterback in Division III. Veldman ranks seventh in the country with 18.5 yards per completion, 11th with nine passing touchdowns, and 12th with 314.5 passing yards per game. Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) and Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) have been Veldman’s top targets, combining for 17 receptions, 353 yards, and four touchdowns. The rushing attack is led by David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.) with 32 carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns.

After allowing 58 points in the season opener at Buena Vista, the Gustie defense buckled down against Wartburg, allowing 40 fewer points. The Gusties lead the conference with four interceptions for 55 yards and six sacks. Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) has a team-leading 15 tackles, including a sack and an interception. Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa) has 12 tackles and one for a loss, while Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato) has 11 tackles, including a team-high 2.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Scouting the Cobbers

Concordia started its season by splitting two non-conference home games – opening the season with a 35-32 loss to Valley City State followed by a decisive 55-14 win over Presentation College. In the win over Presentation, the Cobbers set program records for most pass completions in a game (40) and completion percentage (81.6%). Quarterback Tanner Dubois also set a Concordia single game record by completing 36 passes and became the first quarterback in Cobber history to throw for over 300 yards in consecutive games.

Evidenced by the passing statistics through the first two games of the season, this is not the typical Concordia run-heavy offense that has been its calling card for many years. After averaging less than 90 passing yards per game for four consecutive years (2016-2019), the Cobbers have started the 2021 campaign with 380.0 passing yards per game to lead the MIAC. Dubois is the catalyst of the air attack, averaging a league-leading 352.0 passing yards per game. His completion percentage of 73.3 is sixth in Division III. Andy Gravdahl is the clear No. 1 receiver with 19 catches for 204 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The ground game, which accounts for just 73.5 yards per game, is led by Dubois with 10 carries for 52 yards and a score.

The defense has allowed an average of 370.0 yards (295.5 passing) in the first two games. The Cobbers have forced six fumbles and recovered two. Noah Johnson leads the defense with 13 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. Ty Moser has 12 tackles and 1.5 for loss as well.

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Homecoming: Gustavus is celebrating its 96th Homecoming, continuing a tradition that started on Nov. 8, 1924, when the Gusties defeated Saint John’s 33-0 on Hallander Field. Gustavus has enjoyed a great deal of success on Homecoming Day, compiling an all-time record of 65-28-2. In 88 Homecoming contests against conference opponents, Gustavus has tallied a 59-27-2 record, including an 11-3-1 record against Concordia. The last meeting between these two teams on Gustavus’s Homecoming came in 2018, a 27-14 win for the Gusties.

Veldman Becomes All-Time Passing Leader: On Gustavus’s first possession of the third quarter last Saturday against Wartburg, Michael Veldman found Matthew Kipper for a 77-yard touchdown. That pass made Veldman the Gustavus football program’s all-time passing yards record holder, 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. Veldman also owns the program record for career passing touchdowns with 87.

14 Seconds: Twice in the past five meetings between Gustavus and Concordia has the game been decided in the final 14 seconds of regulation. In the most recent matchup in 2019, Concordia took a 28-27 lead with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter only to have the Gusties respond with what proved to be a game-winning 78-yard touchdown pass with just 14 seconds left in the game. In 2015, Concordia took a 34-27 lead with 2:09 left in regulation. The Gusties answered with a 12-play drive, capped by a six-yard touchdown pass, over the following 1:40 to make it a one-point deficit, but the go-ahead two-point conversion failed and the Gusties were forced to onside kick with 29 seconds left in the game and down 34-33. Gustavus was able to recover the onside kick and three plays later scored the game-winning touchdown on a 33-yard pass with just 14 seconds left in the game.

 

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