NEW ULM, Minn. (csssaints.com) – It wasn't easy, but the St. Scholastica football team came out of New Ulm with its first victory ever at Martin Luther College with a 21-7 triumph on Saturday afternoon at the MLC Bowl.
In their first road game of the season, the Saints were put to the test against a solid Martin Luther defense. On the Saints' first two offensive possessions they drove into Martin Luther territory, but both would end on failed fourth down attempts.
CSS would also fail on fourth down in their fourth possession of the game at the MLC 25-yard-line as the first quarter would end scoreless. The Saints defense was no slouch as well holding the Knights to negative 17 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
The first drive of the second quarter for St. Scholastica ended up with a failed fourth down attempt at the Martin Luther 23-yard-line. The Knights finally drove into CSS territory on the ensuing possession, but that drive ended on a Keaton Rush interception.
Unfortunately, the Saints gave it right back two plays later on a fumble. Martin Luther could not capitalize, going back eight yards on their possession. However, the Knights would get another turnover on the next CSS possession with an interception.
The Saints defense held true again and thanks to a 22-yard Cory Gebhard punt return, St. Scholastica had great field position with 1:05 left in the half. Tyler Harper connected with Nick Thiry for a 25-yard gain down to the MLC 12 yard line. On the next play, Harper found Tyler Olson for a 12-yard touchdown reception to put the Saints on the board with 36 seconds left. Mike Theismann's PAT was good to make it 7-0.
That lead didn't last long as the Knights' Luke Rothe took the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for the touchdown to make it 7-7 at the half.
The Saints recorded 171 yards of total offense in the first half, while the Knights were held to negative four yards.
The third quarter went much like the first half with Martin Luther not having much success offensively and the Saints not able to capitalize against the bend-but-don't-break MLC defense.
With the score still tied in the fourth quarter, the Saints would be pinned at their own 10-yard-line. After moving the ball out to the 27, Harper would find Gebhard on a third-and-three pass and Gebhard did the rest going 73 yards for the score to make it 14-7 with 11:38 remaining.
The teams exchanged punts until late in the game when CSS was forced to make a decision on a fourth-and-goal at the MLC 5-yard-line with 31 seconds left. Instead of kicking the field goal, the Saints went for it and Harper found Gebhard again in the end zone for the touchdown to put the game on ice and give the Saints a 21-7 victory. It was also the first fourth down conversion of the game for CSS.
For the second consecutive week, the CSS defense held their opponents out of the end zone. The Knights (1-3, 0-3 UMAC) had just 67 yards of total offense, which sets a new program record for the Saints defense. The previous record was 149 vs. Westminster last year. The Saints also set a record for fewest rushing yards allowed as the Knights had negative 32 yards.
The St. Scholastica offense garnered 371 yards of total offense with a balanced attack of 188 on the ground and 183 through the air.
Harper was 13-of-29 for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Gebhard had a big day with five receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Gebhard also had a program record 101 punt return yards for 210 all-purpose yards. Jake Jensen led the ground attack with 105 yards on 25 carries.
Zack Dubanoski led the defense with nine tackles and one sack. Blake Cedarleaf recorded seven tackles, including 3.5 for a loss. Chas Lemon also had a pair of sacks on the day. Jake Church had five of his six punts land inside the 20, which matched a program record.
The Saints (3-1, 3-0 UMAC) will be on the road again next Saturday when they make the 10-plus hour trip to Jacksonville, Illinois to faceoff against MacMurray College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and all of the action can be heard live on Saints Sports Net.