Football Battles Concordia in MIAC Third Place Game

Posted on November 13th, 2021 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team travels to Concordia for the MIAC third place game at 1 p.m. Saturday in the final game of the season. The Gusties enter the contest 7-2 overall, 5-2 in the MIAC, and 3-1 in the Northwoods Division, while the Cobbers are 4-5 overall, 3-4 in the league, and 3-1 in the Skyline Division.


The Series

Saturday’s game marks the 90th all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Concordia football programs with the Gusties leading the series 48-39-2. Gustavus has won the last three meetings, most recently claiming a 36-21 Homecoming victory on Sept. 25 at Hollingsworth Field. The last meeting in Moorhead turned out to be a thrilling 35-28 victory 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.

Week 4 vs. Concordia (Sept. 25)

Facing adversity with starting quarterback Michael Veldman (Sr., Becker) lost to injury early in the first quarter, the Gustavus football team rose to the occasion on Homecoming Saturday and used all three phases of the game to claim a 36-21 victory over Concordia in the MIAC opener.

Jake Breitbach (So., Golden Valley) stepped in at quarterback for Veldman and the Gusties didn’t miss a beat. Breitbach finished the day, completing 17-of-22 passes for 212 yards. He also was the leading rusher with 16 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) produced big numbers in the running game, passing game, and on special teams as he totaled 289 all-purpose yards. He led the receiving corps with nine catches for 124 yards, along with 10 carries for 76 yards, and added an 89-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Concordia opened the game with the ball and drove 41 yards on eight plays, but a sack by Isaiah Chambers (So., Houston, Texas) on a third down forced the Cobbers to a 39-yard field goal attempt, which was missed. The Gusties then drove the ball 78 yards in 14 plays, capped by a two-yard touchdown rush by Breitbach one play after Veldman was sidelined with a foot injury. Andrew Abegglen’s (Jr., Mound) extra point was good and the Gusties led 7-0 at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter.

The Cobbers were able to respond on the ensuing possession with a nine-play, 61-yard drive, finished with a 14-yard touchdown pass to make the score 7-7 with 3:05 left in the first.

Gustavus was able to get into the Cobber red zone on the following drive but a sack on third down forced an Abegglen field goal, which he hit from 37 yards out to gain a 10-7 advantage 2:35 into the second quarter. Concordia took the ensuing kickoff 63 yards to the Gustavus 30-yard line and scored on the next play with a 30-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-10 lead.

The Gusties fired right back as Thelen took the next kickoff 89 yards to the house for a 17-14 lead, which they did not give up the rest of the game. Thelen’s kickoff return for a touchdown was the first by a Gustie since Greg Lane had an 86-yard game-winning kickoff return touchdown with 39 seconds left in the game at Concordia on Nov. 14, 2009.

On Gustavus’s last possession of the first half, Breitbach started the drive with a 35-yard rush up the right side, eventually setting up a 30-yard field goal from Abegglen and the Gusties took a 20-14 lead into halftime.

The Gusties received the opening kick of the third quarter and put together an eight-play, 70-yard drive, capped by a 22-yard field goal by Abegglen for a 23-14 lead with 11:10 left in the frame. Both teams were held scoreless for the rest of the third, but Matthew Carreon (Jr., Houston, Texas) gave the Gusties a big lift with a diving catch for a 40-yard reception at the end of the quarter. Three plays later, David Peal (Sr., Worcetser, Mass.) punched in a five-yard run for a touchdown and the Gusties led 29-14 with 14:16 left in the game.

Concordia kept it a game by responding on the next drive, going 80 yards in seven plays with a one-yard touchdown run to bring the score to 29-21 with 12:15 on the clock. But the Gusties punched right back with a nine-play, 65-yard drive, capped once again with a one-yard touchdown run by Peal for a 36-21 lead with seven minutes remaining.

The Gustie defense stood tall on Concordia’s final two drive, not allowing the Cobbers to score. Ezekiel Sundberg (Sr., Lakewood, Colo.) led the defense with seven tackles. Andrey Denson (So., El Paso, Texas) added six tackles and a pass breakup.

Gustavus outgained the Cobbers 470-369 in total offense. The ground game was productive as the Gusties ran for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Abegglen was productive in the kicking game, accounting for 12 points, going 3-for-4 on field goals and three extra points.

Scouting the Gusties

Gustavus is coming off a 29-14 win over St. Olaf last Saturday in the final home game of the season. The Gustie run defense was stout all day, holding the Oles to -15 yards on the ground. The Oles turned one-dimensional with 278 passing yards for a total of 263 yards. The Gusties amassed 342 total yards – 276 through the air and 66 on the ground. Gustavus also continued its trend of controlling the ball with 37:46 time of possession.

Through nine games this season, the Gusties have one of the top offenses in the league, averaging 35.2 points and 443.9 total yards per game. The offensive attack is equally balanced between the ground and aerial games with 209.4 rushing and 234.4 passing yards per game.

After starting the last two games at quarterback, Brett Hufendick (Sr., Edina) has completed 52-of-69 passes for 569 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. Dalton Thelen (Sr., Cold Spring) continues to be the top threat in the passing game with 52 catches for 766 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also a threat in the running and return game with 26 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown, along with nine kick returns for 220 yards, including an 89-yard return touchdown. Thelen averages 129.0 all-purpose yards per game. Rohee Konde (So., Hopkins) and David Peal (Sr., Worcester) lead a strong rushing attack. Konde has 79 carries for 565 yards and seven touchdowns, while Peal has 108 carries for 484 yards and seven scores.

The defense allows 24.3 points and 332.7 total yards per game. Austin Fest (Sr., West Des Moines, Iowa) continues to lead the secondary with 52 tackles (35 solo), two tackles for loss, and three pass breakups. Carson Dekam (So., Owatonna) is the top linebacker with 53 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and an interception. Zach Jakes (Sr., North Mankato) leads the defensive line with 44 tackles, 6.0 sacks, and 13 tackles for loss.

Scouting the Cobbers

Concordia earned the Skyline Division No. 2 seed with a decisive 41-7 win at Hamline last week. The Cobbers outgained the Pipers 360-151 in total yards and scored 41 unanswered points after Hamline gained a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game.

Through nine games, the Cobbers average 30.0 points and 389.2 yards per game. The aerial attack averages 263.2 yards while the ground game averages 126.0 yards per game.

Tanner Dubois directs the offense from the shotgun, completing 231-of-342 passes for 2299 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Andy Gravdahl is the top receiving target with 34 catches for 380 yards and three touchdowns. Zach Wolf is next with 31 catches for 406 yards and four scores. Nineteen different Cobbers have caught a pass this season. The rushing game is led by Ben Hoggarth with 109 carries for 392 yards and seven touchdowns. Peyton Mortenson has 87 carries for 425 yards and five scores.

The defense is led by Noah Jenson with 61 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Ty Moser has 56 tackles along with six tackles for loss and a sack.

• • • • • • • • • •

Abegglen Earns Fourth MIAC Weekly Honor: Andrew Abegglen (Jr., Mound) was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal tries in Saturday’s 29-14 win over St. Olaf. His field goals were of 32, 42, and 23 yards. The 42-yarder was his career-long. Abegglen is now one made field goal shy of tying the Gustavus program record for made field goals in a season (13). He also ranks No. 2 in NCAA Division III with 12 field goals made this season. Abegglen had six kickoffs with an average of 60.5 yards in the game as well. For his performance, Abegglen was named MIAC Special Teams Athlete of the Week for the fourth time this season.

Ball Hogs: Gustavus is averaging 34:29 time of possession this season, which ranks first in the MIAC and third in Division III. The Gusties have held the advantage in time of possession in seven of their nine games this season, highlighted by margins of +22:10 at St. Scholastica on Oct. 9, +19:48 against Concordia on Sept. 25, and +15:32 last week against St. Olaf.

Going for Eight: Gustavus earned its seventh overall victory last Saturday, which gave it a record of 7-2 with one game to play. The Gusties have reached the seven-win mark twice in the past six years (7-3 in 2019 and 7-3 in 2015). Gustavus also posted final records of 7-3 in 1999 and 2001, but hasn’t had an eight-win season since going 8-2 in 1998 when it took second place in the conference. The Gusties’ winningest season came in 1987 when they won the MIAC championship (9-0) and went 10-1 overall, losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament.


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