Football Back at Hollingsworth Field Saturday Taking On Hamline

Posted on October 15th, 2021 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team is set for a MIAC cross-divisional game Saturday afternoon against Hamline. The Gusties enter the game 4-1 overall, 2-1 in the MIAC, and 1-0 in the Northwoods Division, while the Pipers are 3-2 overall, 1-2 in the MIAC, and 0-0 in the Skyline Division.


The Series

Saturday afternoon’s game marks the 88th all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Hamline football programs with the Gusties leading the series 63-24. Gustavus has won the last three meetings, most recently beating the Pipers 69-21 on Oct. 19, 2019 at Hollingsworth Field. At the time, the 69 points set the program record for points in a game. The Gusties dominated the first half with a 48-0 lead at halftime. The Gusties scored a touchdown on their first 10 possessions.

Scouting the Gusties

Gustavus makes its return to the friendly confines of Hollingsworth Field after claiming a decisive 72-7 victory at the College of St. Scholastica last Saturday. The 65-point win marked the widest margin of victory in program history as the Gusties accumulated 730 total yards of offense, setting the program record. The game also marked the inaugural meeting between the two schools in football and the first MIAC Northwoods Division game of the season.

At the midway point of the regular season, the Gusties have one of the top offenses in NCAA Division III. The Gusties rank 11th in the country in time of possession (34:32), 12th in total offense (500.8), and 14th in scoring offense (44.8). After being thrust into the starting quarterback role in place of an injured Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker), Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley) have proven to be a threat as a passer and rusher. Breitbach has completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 603 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing the ball 30 times for 172 yards and two scores. Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) and Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) continue to be the top targets in the passing game. Thelen leads the team with 27 catches for 429 yards and four touchdowns, while Kipper has 21 receptions for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Thelen’s 85.8 receiving yards per game rank fifth in the MIAC.

The ground attack is paced by David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.) and Rohee Konde (So., Hopkins). Peal leads the team with 70 carries for 338 yards and a MIAC-leading seven touchdowns, while Konde has 40 carries for 306 yards and three trips to the end zone.

The Gustie defense is allows opponents to 27.6 points and 370.0 total yards of offense per game. Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa) leads the team with 32 tackles from the secondary. Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato) has 30 tackles from the defensive line, including a team-high 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, and three quarterback hurries. Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) is the top linebacker with 28 tackles, a sack, interception, and two fumble recoveries.

Scouting the Pipers

After starting the season 2-0 in non-conference games, Hamline has opened the conference schedule 1-2, most recently falling 49-7 to Bethel last Saturday. Bethel opened the game with three straight touchdowns and held a 42-7 advantage at halftime.

Through five games this season, the Pipers average 26.4 points and 342.0 total yards of offense per game, ranking eighth in both categories in the MIAC. The Pipers have done well when reaching the red zone, ranking third in the league by scoring 86 percent of the time in the red zone.

At quarterback, Connor Leavens has completed 94-of-150 passes for 1,033 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. His 10 passing touchdowns rank fourth in the MIAC. Triston Thomas is the top target through the air, catching 32 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Miller and Charlie Wilson each have 14 receptions and have combined for 338 yards and five touchdowns. Alec Ralph is the top rusher with 51 carries for 218 yards and two scores. Nikolas Rocafort and Terrell Jones have also seen significant time in the offensive backfield, adding two rushing touchdowns each.

The Piper defense allows 33.6 points and 360.8 total offensive yards per game. Sam Fritz leads the defense with 38 tackles. Kaden Smith has 33 tackles and leads the team with 21 solo stops. In the secondary, Adrian Cracolici has five pass breakups and an interception. Godmar Gach has three sacks, which ranks fourth in the conference.

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Offensive Onslaught: Despite losing starting quarterback Michael Veldman to injury in the first drive of the game against Concordia on Sept. 25, the Gustie offense has continued to put up extraordinary numbers. Gustavus has two of the top-six single game scoring performances in Division III this season after posting 80 points in the season opener at Buena Vista on Sept. 4, and then totaling 72 points last week at St. Scholastica. The 730 yards of offense last week is the sixth-highest single game total in the country this season. In their four victories this season, the Gusties are averaging 53.8 points and 541.3 yards of offense.

Ground and Pound: Gustavus has established itself as one of the premier passing offenses in Division III throughout the past six seasons, but this year has shown its ability to run the ball. Last week against St. Scholastica, the Gusties had one of the most impressive rushing performances in program history, carrying the ball 60 times for 472 yards. Both the rushing attempts and yards are the most by Gustavus since 1990 when the Gusties rushed 69 times for 531 yards in a 42-0 win over Macalester at the original Hollingsworth Field. This season the Gusties are averaging 232.4 yards on the ground, which is the most since the 1988 Gusties averaged 233.3 yards.

Twice as Nice: Kicker Andrew Abegglen (Jr., Mound) was selected MIAC Special Teams Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after his performance at St. Scholastica. Abegglen accounted for nine points, helping the Gusties set a new program record for the widest margin of victory. Abegglen went 6-for-7 on extra points and made a 24-yard field goal in the game. He also handled the kickoff duties with 10 kickoffs for 590 yards, averaging 59.0 yards per kick. Abegglen leads the MIAC this season with 41 points, going 6-for-8 on field goals with a long of 37, and 23-for-25 on extra points.

Dominant Defense: The Gusties held St. Scholastica to 189 total yards last Saturday with 25 yards on the ground and 164 yards through the air on 54 total plays. The Saints scored their lone touchdown on a 70-yard reception, but the Gusties held the home team to 119 yards on the other 53 plays, averaging 2.2 yards per play. The 189 yards allowed are the fewest by the Gusties since allowing just 98 yards against Augsburg on Oct. 20, 2018. The Gustie defense also held the Saints to just 18:55 in time of possession.

This Day in History: On Oct. 16, 1999, Gustavus defeated Bethel 26-20 at Hollingsworth Field in a tightly-contested game. Sophomore linebacker Brian Bergstrom (Gustavus Athletics Hall of Fame, Class of 2017) was named Football Gazette’s National Defensive Player of the Week after recording 16 tackles, hauled in an interception, and forced a fumble. Travis Prunty carried the ball 31 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. Joe Thorvig had two touchdown passes to Brent Olson. Thorvig completed 17-of24 passes for 209 yards with Olson catching six passes for 66 yards.


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