St. Paul - Following an interception by Zach Dilger (Jr., South St. Paul, Minn.) on Hamline's opening drive, the Gustavus football team put its foot on the gas and would not let off until late in the third quarter on its way to a 52-7 victory over Hamline on Saturday afternoon at Klas Field. The Gustavus offense scored on all six of its possessions of the first half and its opening two drives in the second half to open up a 52-0 lead before Hamline scored in the fourth quarter to bring the final score to 52-7. With the win, Gustavus improves to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the MIAC, while the Pipers fall to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the MIAC.
"We have been talking a lot about momentum and carrying things over to the next week," said junior safety Jake Forcier (Watkins, Minn.). "The big goal for us was to go 1-0 this week. That has been the motto throughout the year: go 1-0 every week. Last week was big win for us, but this week was a different opponent and I think we did a good job of focusing solely on Hamline this week."
After allowing the Hamline offense to pick up a pair of first downs on its opening drive, Zach Dilger came down with an interception off a tipped ball and returned it 30 yards to the Hamline 48-yard line to set up the Gustavus offense. The Gusties would not let the opportunity go to waste, as Thomas Schleusener (Jr., Rapid City, S.D.) connected on a 30-yard field goal to give the Gusties a 3-0 lead with 10:29 to play in the opening quarter.
"Coach Shea has preached fast and physical defense all year, and that starts up front" continued Forcier. "Our d-line has been doing a great job of getting it done and getting after the quarterback. That makes it easy on us in the secondary. When they force quarterbacks out of the pocket, they are uncomfortable and that allows us to get tips on some passes, which Dilger took advantage of today with his pick today."
After holding Hamline to 16 yards on the next possession, the Gusties drove 85 yards in nine plays to cross the goal line and take a 10-0 lead. Gustavus converted a key third down on the drive when quarterback Mitch Hendricks (So., Laporte, Minn.) completed a 38-yard strike down the sideline to receiver George Buchner (Fr., Excelsior, Minn.) on third-and-11 that kept the possession alive. The drive was capped off by Jeffrey Dubose (Sr., St. Paul, Minn.) when he took a handoff and went up-and-over the pile from one yard out.
The Gusties got the ball back three plays later and proceeded to score once more on a Dubose touchdown run, this time from four yards out. Gustavus again converted on a key third down on the drive with a completion from Hendricks to Buchner to push the offense on to take a 17-0 lead.
"Our offense played really well today and I think it was our ability to convert on third down that was the difference in the game," acknowledged Head Coach Peter Haugen. "Early on we were forced to convert a couple of third and long situations, which gave us some confidence right from the start."
From there, the Gusties controlled the remainder of the half, scoring on each of its next three drives to end the second quarter. Dubose scored from 28 yards out after breaking two tackles and cutting to the outside where he outraced everyone to the pylon to push the lead to 24-0. On the ensuing kickoff, Hamline kick returner Hoyfal Adam fumbled on his own five yard line whereBeau Bachman (Sr., St. Peter, Minn.) snatched the ball off the bounce and took it home for the score. Dubose capped the half of scoring with an eight-yard touchdown reception off a screen pass out of the backfield to extend the lead to 38-0 with just :25 seconds remaining in the half. The scored capped an 11-play, 94-yard drive that took just 4:32.
It took just two plays out of halftime for Dubose to break off a 57-yard touchdown run to put the Gusties in front 45-0. The touchdown put an end to the afternoon for the offensive starters, as they would turn the reigns over the second team, which in turn scored on its first possession in the game. Aaron O'Gorman (Sr., St. Peter, Minn.) scored his second touchdown of the season on a five-yard run with 8:08 to play in the third before the Gusties were forced to punt for the first time all afternoon on the next possession with just over 2:00 remaining in the quarter.
Hamline's Austin Duncan scored on a three-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, but it was far too late for the Pipers in the 45-point loss.
For the game, Gustavus racked up 489 yards of total offense (230 passing, 259 rushing) in the 52-point performance. However, the key on the stat sheet was a 67-percent (8-for-12) conversion rate on third down, while not turning the ball over. Running back Jeffrey Dubose led the way for the Gusties with 200 yards on 16 attempts (12.5 avg) to go along with four touchdowns on the ground. Dubose also caught two passes for 15 yards and another touchdown through the air to bring his touchdown total to five on the day. Quarterback Mitch Hendricks was on point all afternoon, completing 15-of-18 passes (83.3%) for 184 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Phillip Butler (Sr., St. Paul, Minn.) caught seven passes for 60 yards on the day.
Although dominant in the first half, the Gustavus defense allowed over 100 yards rushing for the first time this season, as Hamline ran for 154 yards. However, the Pipers were held to just 61 yards rushing in the first two quarters. Hamline also gained 109 yards passing for 263 total yards on the day. Individually, Lucas Kleinschrodt (Sr., Alden, Minn.) led the way with 10 tackles (5 solo), while Zach Dilger raked in an interception and Beau Bachman recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
Gustavus will next host the University of St. Thomas on Saturday, Oct. 12th for family weekend and Coach to Cure MD in St. Peter. That kick off is set for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. More information on Coach to Cure MD will be available later in the week.
"I think it comes back to how we handle this success," finished Haugen. "Similar to this week, we need to be a mature team, stay focused, and be critical of ourselves so we can continue to get better and grow as a football team."