Football’s Second Half Struggles Result in 37-7 Loss to No. 5 Saint John’s

Posted on October 23rd, 2021 by

Carson Dekam makes a tackle against Saint John's. (photo courtesy of David Faulkner, SPX Sports)


SAINT PETER, Minn. – A 58-yard touchdown pass from Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley) to Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) late in the second quarter put the Gustavus football team within three points of No. 5 Saint John’s, trailing 10-7 at halftime, but 27 unanswered second half points gave the Johnnies a 37-7 win on Saturday at Hollingsworth Field. The Gusties drop to 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the MIAC, and 1-1 in the Northwoods Division, while the Johnnies improve to 7-0 overall, 5-0 in the league, and 2-0 in the division.

“The first half was a really good football game and we did some things in that half to give us a chance, and that was encouraging,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “We came out in the second half and just didn’t play how we were hoping for and Saint John’s made a couple really big plays.”

The first quarter started with both team trading punts on their first two possessions. The Johnnies struck first with 1:33 remaining in the opening frame with a 10-yard touchdown run, capping a five-play, 51-yard drive. Saint John’s then started the second quarter with a nine-play, 43-yard drive, but the Gustie defense stopped the drive on the five-yard line, forcing a 23-yard field goal for a 10-0 Johnnie lead.

On the Johnnie’s next possession, the Gustie forced a fumble, recovered by Nathan Schroepfer (Sr., Sleepy Eye) at the Gustie 32. Three plays later, Breitbach connected on a deep pass down the middle to Thelen for the touchdown, cutting the Saint John’s lead to 10-7 with 3:18 left in the half. The score remained 10-7 at the break.

After trading a few punts to start the third quarter, Saint John’s took a 17-7 lead after a 23-yard touchdown run. The Gusties were driving into Johnnie territory on the ensuing possession, but turned the ball over on downs at the Saint John’s 38. The visitors then went 62 yards in two plays for a 24-7 advantage, which was the score after three quarters. Saint John’s added two more unanswered touchdowns in the fourth for the 37-7 decision.

The Johnnies outgained the Gusties 349-183 in total yards. The Gusties won the time of possession battle 32:06-27:54. Saint John’s was penalized 13 times for 102 yards.

David Peal (Sr., Worcester, Mass.) led the Gustie ground game with 15 carries for 52 yards. Breitbach completed 7-of-13 passes for 86 yards and a score. Thelen was the leading receiver with three catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) paced the defense with nine tackles and a sack. Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa), Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato) and Ezekiel Sundberg (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.) added seven stops apiece. Jakes had a sack and two tackles for loss.

“I love the fight of our team and our special teams play today was outstanding,” Haugen said. “Kicking the ball and punting the ball in the right spots, we knew we needed to do that. Our game plan was scripting beautifully in the first half with possessing the ball, but that got away from us in the second half.”

Gustavus hits the road next Saturday for a 1 p.m. divisional game at Carleton.


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