Football Hosts Saint John’s Saturday on Hall of Fame Day

Posted on October 22nd, 2021 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team welcomes Saint John’s to Hollingsworth Field on Saturday for a 1 p.m. MIAC Northwoods Division game. The Gusties enter the matchup 5-1 overall, 3-1 in the MIAC, and 1-0 in the division, while the No. 5-ranked Johnnies are 6-0 overall, 4-0 in the league, and 1-0 in the division.


Hall of Fame Weekend

Saturday’s game is designated as Hall of Fame Day at Hollingsworth Field as the College’s Athletics Department has selected nine individuals for induction into its Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2021 class of inductees include Beth DeLaRosby Murray ’05 (swim & dive), Doug Espenson ’05 (basketball), Tara Houlihan Whiting ’06 (tennis, volleyball), Bobby Kroog ’06 (soccer), Audrey Lenoch ’06 (softball), Lyndsey Palen Crossley ’06 (tennis), Amanda Parker ’05 (gymnastics), Ben Sherer ’06 (baseball), and Tom Thorkelson ’70 (coach). 

The Series

Saturday afternoon’s game marks the 87th all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Saint John’s football programs with the Johnnies leading the series 51-32-3. Saint John’s has won the last six meetings, most recently defeating the Gusties 33-21 on Sept. 21, 2019 in Collegeville. Brayton Finch caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Michael Veldman midway through the second quarter to tie the game 14-14, but the Johnnies responded with 13 unanswered points. Gustavus last defeated the Johnnies on Nov. 2, 2013 at Hollingsworth Field. Thomas Schleusner tied the game 17-17 with a 39-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and added a 28-yarder and a 37-yarder in overtime for a 23-20 victory.

Scouting the Gusties

Gustavus looks to remain unbeaten at Hollingsworth Field this season after claiming a 33-21 victory against Hamline last Saturday. The Gusties rushed for 403 yards, led by Rohee Konde’s (So., Hopkins) 207-yard, three-touchdown performance.

Through six games this season, the Gusties continue to boast one of the top offenses in NCAA Division III. The Gusties are ranked in the top-10 in rushing offense (260.0 yards per game), total offense (510.8 yards per game), and time of possession (34:49). With sophomore quarterback Jake Breitbach (Golden Valley) starting the past three games, the Gusties have evolved into a run-first offense. Konde has been the lead back, averaging 85.5 yards per game, which ranks second in the MIAC. Konde’s 513 rushing yards this season are ninth most among first-year or sophomore players in Division III. In limited playing time this season, David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.) is the second leading rusher with 70 carries for 338 yards and seven touchdowns.

Breitbach is no stranger to tuck the ball and run with 44 carries for 322 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. In the passing game, Breitbach has completed 55-of-85 passes (64.7%) for 761 yards, four touchdowns, and six interceptions. Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) and Matthew Kipper (So., Bloomington) are the leading receivers. Thelen has 28 catches for 449 yards and four touchdowns, while Kipper has 24 catches for 366 yards and two scores. Thelen is also a threat on special teams with seven kick returns for an average of 25.9 yards per return, including an 89-yard touchdown.

In the last two games, the Gustie defense is allowing just 14 points and 217.5 yards per game. Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa) is the leading tackler from the secondary with 38 stops (25 solo). Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) leads the linebackers with 35 tackles, including a sack and an interception, while Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato) is the top defensive lineman with 30 tackles and 2.0 sacks. Ezekiel Sundberg (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.) has a team-leading four interceptions.

Scouting the Johnnies

Saint John’s enters today’s matchup ranked No. 5 in Division III according to the latest poll after a decisive 56-0 victory over St. Olaf last Saturday in Collegeville. In their past three games, the Johnnies have not allowed a point, outscoring their opponents 155-0.

Through six games this season, the Johnnies rank 14th in Division III with 500.7 yards of total offense and 46.7 points per game. They rank 17th in both passing offense (307.2 yards per game) and team passing efficiency (174.55). The Johnnie offense averages 307.2 passing yards and 193.5 rushing yards per game.

Sophomore quarterback Aaron Syverson has completed 111-of-169 passes (65.7%) for 1,607 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions. 2019 All-American receiver Ravi Alston leads the aerial attack with 32 catches for 470 yards (94.0 per game) and three touchdowns. Jimmy Buck is next with 22 receptions for 332 yards and four touchdowns. 6-foot-7 tight end Alex Larson is the Johnnies’ red zone threat, hauling in five touchdowns inside the 20-yard line and six overall.

Henry Trost is the leading rusher with 61 carries for 407 yards and a MIAC-leading 10 touchdowns. Devin Vouk is also a threat out of the backfield with 57 carries for 260 yards and five scores.

The defense with allowing 10.8 points and 257.8 yards per game. Erik Bjork leads the team with 42 tackles (21 solo), including 2.5 tackles for loss. Kyle Kornovich is next with 31 stops, 2.0 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, and an interception. Seth Morem leads the defensive front with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.

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Mêlée in the Northwoods: Saturday’s game has major implications on who could earn the MIAC Northwoods Division No. 1 seed. Both Gustavus and Saint John’s have proven to be top contenders in the MIAC with the Gusties at 3-1 in the league and 1-0 in the division, and the Johnnies at 4-0 in the conference and 1-0 in the division. The winner of today’s game will have the inside track to the MIAC championship game on Nov. 13.

Racking Up the Numbers: The Gustavus offense continues to load the stat sheet and make a name for itself in the national rankings. The Gusties rank ninth in NCAA Division III with 260.0 rushing yards per game. They rank 10th in both total offense (510.8 yards per game) and time of possession (34:49). The scoring is 19th in the country with 42.8 points per game. Gustavus still has two of the top-seven 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 on Oct. 2 at St. Scholastica.

More Ground and Pound: Known as a premier passing offense in Division III in recent seasons, Gustavus has switched to feature its rushing game this year. One week removed from carrying the ball 60 times for 472 yards at St. Scholastica, the Gusties posted their second-straight 400-yard rushing performance last week, running the ball 54 times for 403 yards against Hamline. This season the Gusties are averaging 260.0 yards on the ground, which is the most since the 1979 Gusties averaged 311.1 yards. Rohee Konde is carrying the load this year, averaging 84.7 yards per game, which ranks second in the MIAC.

MIAC Weekly Honors: Kicker Andrew Abegglen was selected MIAC Special Teams Player of the Week for the third time this season, while Rohee Konde earned MIAC Offensive Player of the Week. Konde posted career highs in the Gusties’ 33-21 win over Hamline on Saturday, rushing 26 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Konde’s 207 rushing yards are the most by a Gustie since Jeffrey Dubose ran for 264 yards against Carleton on Nov. 9, 2013. Abegglen accounted for nine points on Saturday, drilling three extra points and a pair of field goals in the win. The junior converted on field goal tries of 29 and 36 yards, both in the second half. He also kicked off seven times in the game, averaging 55.9 yards per kickoff. Gustavus has received MIAC Player of the Week honors five times this season. In addition to Abegglen’s three awards and Konde’s this week, Dalton Thelen was the Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 27.

Home Sweet Home: Gustavus has won all three of its home games at Hollingsworth Field this season and that unbeaten streak will be put to the test tomorrow against Saint John’s. In their three home victories this season, the Gusties are winning by an average of 32-20 and averaging 453.7 total yards per game. Since 2013, the Gusties are 26-11 at Hollingsworth Field, including a mark of 7-1 in the past two seasons. Since 1929, the Gusties own a home record of 236-129-8.


One Comment

  1. Gregg Aamot says:

    Good luck, Gusties!

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