Football Set for Road Test at No. 16 Bethel

Posted on September 30th, 2021 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team hits the road Saturday for a MIAC matchup at Bethel. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. from Arden Hills, Minn. The Gusties enter the game 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC, while the 16th-ranked Royals are 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the league.


The Series

Saturday’s game marks the 43rd meeting between the Gustavus and Bethel football programs with the Royals leading the all-time series 25-17. The Royals have won the last 11 meetings, most recently beating the Gusties 35-33 on Sept. 28, 2019 in Saint Peter. Tied 14-14 to start the fourth quarter, the two teams traded three touchdowns each in the final 15 minutes. The Gusties botched one of the extra points and were forced to go for the two-point conversion after their final touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game, but the pass failed and the Royals escaped with the two-point victory.

Scouting the Gusties

Gustavus looks to keep its momentum going after opening the conference schedule with a 36-21 Homecoming victory over Concordia. The loss of starting quarterback Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) to injury early in the game did not phase the Gusties as they continued to make big plays in all three phases of the game, highlighted by an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) early in the second quarter to put the Gusties in the lead, which they held for the rest of the game.

Through three games this season, the Gusties lead the MIAC with 47.7 points per game. They also top the conference in passing yards per completion (15.7), rushing touchdowns (8), and field goals (4-5). Veldman leads the offense from the shotgun, averaging 314.5 passing yards per game before suffering an injury last week against Concordia. Veldman’s status for Saturday has not been determined as of Thursday. Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley) stepped in for Veldman after the injury and the offense didn’t miss a beat. Breitbach finished the day completing 17-of-22 passes for 212 yards. He also led the team with 16 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Thelen and Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) are the top receiving targets. Thelen has 17 catches for 325 yards and three touchdowns, while Kipper has 12 receptions for 175 yards and one score. Thelen’s 108.3 receiving yards per game rank third in the MIAC. David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.) leads the ground game with 45 carries for 215 yards and five touchdowns.

After allowing 58 points in the season opener, the Gustie defense has buckled down in the past two games, limiting then-No. 15 Wartburg to 18 points and Concordia to 21 points. The Gusties lead the league with five interceptions. Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) leads the defense with 19 tackles, including a sack, interception, and two fumble recoveries. Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa) is next with 18 tackles.

Scouting the Royals

Bethel, ranked No. 16 in the latest poll, started it season strong with decisive wins over North Park and UW-Platteville before losing a closely-contest game at No. 6 Saint John’s, 31-25, last Saturday.

Through three games, the Royals average 37.3 points and 390.7 total yards per game. Jaran Roste leads the team with 224.3 passing yards per game, including six passing touchdowns and three rushing. He also averages 49.3 yards per game on the ground, which is second on the team to Bryce Kunkle with 63.3 yards per game. The Royals’ eight rushing touchdowns are most in the MIAC. Joey Kidder is the top receiving target with 14 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 100.6 yards per game.

Matt Feldick leads the defense with 23 tackles along with an interception. Nate Farm and Thomas Wundermann both have 19 tackles. The Bethel defense allows just 15 points and 295.3 total yards per game.

Bethel is hosting its Homecoming on Saturday and currently has a nine-game winning streak at home, dating back to 2018.


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