In a track meet of a second half, the Gustavus football just couldn't keep stride with St. Olaf, as the Oles used a 28-point final 30 minutes to defeat the Gusties 44-26 on Saturday afternoon in Northfield, Minn. Despite scoring its highest point-total of the season, Gustavus allowed 555 yards of total offense and were just 3-of-10 on third downs in the contest. Gustavus falls to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC with the loss, while St. Olaf improves to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the MIAC.
St. Olaf quarterback Dan Dobson was the story of the game, standing out in the box score with five touchdowns (4 pass, 1 run) on the day. Dobson was 19-for-36 for 259 yards through the air, while running for a game-high 139 yards on 11 carries (12.6 ypr).
The Gusties got off to a slow start, trailing 10-0 by the start of the second quarter following a Dobson to Jake Schmiesing 14-yard touchdown and a Jason Obarski 35-yard field goal.
Senior cornerback Dan Optiz provided the spark Gustavus needed at the 12:02 mark of the second quarter, coming off the edge to block a punt and recover it in the endzone for Gustavus' first score of the game (10-7). The block by Opitz was Gustavus' first of the season and is the first since Oct. 30, 2010 against St. Thomas.
The Gustavus defense forced a punt on St. Olaf's next possession and the offense kept the ball rolling, putting together a quick six-play, 77-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 15-yard touchdown scamper by running back Jeffrey Dubose. Tom Huepenbecker added the extra point and Gustavus had its first lead at 14-10.
The Oles would answer late in the second quarter when Dobson connected on a fade to Stephen Asp from the five-yard-line, giving St. Olaf back the lead at 16-14. Asp scored two touchdowns on the day and would lead the Oles in receiving with 94 yards on four catches.
St. Olaf opened the second half scoring up with a 21-yard field goal to extend its lead to 19-14 by the 7:50 mark of the third quarter. Disaster struck for the Gusties less than two minutes later when Huepenbecker's punt was blocked and recovered by the Oles on the Gustavus 10-yard-line. Dobson found Jake Schmiesing on the next play for the 10-yard touchdown pass, putting the Oles up 25-14.
Gustavus responded on the ensuing possession, putting together a nine-play, 78-yard scoring drive following the Schmiesing touchdown to cut the lead to 25-20. Jeffrey Dubose ran in his second rushing touchdown of the game, bursting through a big hole off tackle from 20 yards out. Dubose carried 11 times for 58 yards (5.3 ypr) in the game.
Dobson put the nail in the coffin on St. Olaf's next two possessions. Following the Dubose score, he hooked up with Asp on a 64-yard touchdown pass that extended the lead to 31-20. After Gustavus was forced to punt on the next possession, Dobson broke free down the sidelines two plays later to score on a 70-yard run (37-20).
Logan Becker hit Dubose out of the backfield for a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to bring the game to a final at 44-26. Becker finished the game 17-of-29 for 165 yards with one touchdown and one interception through the air. He was also Gustavus' leading rusher with 76 yards on 12 carries (6.3 ypr).
Muresuk Mena was Gustavus' leading receiver, bringing in four catches for a game-high 115 yards. Andre Creighton had four catches for 30 yards, while Elliott Herdina was limited to just two grabs for -5.
St. Olaf dominated time of possession 36:09 to 23:51 in the game. Gustavus was 3-for-3 in the red zone, yet the Oles were 6-for-6 with four touchdowns and three field goals.
Alec Saunders led the defense for the second straight game with a game-high 10 tackles (3 solo, 7 asst.). Brad Kruckeberg recorded six tackles (3 solo, 3 asst.) and had an interception in the middle of the second quarter, putting an end to a threatening drive by picking off a Dobson pass in the end zone for a touchback.
The Gustavus football team will look to bounce back on Homecoming next weekend in St. Peter, when the Gusties take on Concordia at 1:30 p.m. at Hollingsworth Field.