The Free Press, Mankato, MN

College Sports

September 19, 2010

Running game helps Gusties pull away from Northwestern

Armstrong paces Gustavus attack with 180 rushing yards

ST PETER — Lucas Armstrong came to Gustavus Adolphus as a running back, then was switched to linebacker for his sophomore and junior seasons.

He’s back at running back as a senior, and Saturday’s game brought back plenty of memories.

“It felt good,” said Armstrong, who rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown in Gustavus’ 29-0 nonconference victory Northwestern College at Hollingsworth Field on Saturday.

“I haven’t played running back in three years so it felt good to get into a rhythm.

Armstrong’s total was the most by a Gustavus runner since Ray Wilson gained a program-record 258 yards in a game against Augsburg in 2008. Armstrong had only seven carries in the first half and 16 in the second half as the Gusties featured the ground game.

“I watched some tape on him from high school, and we talked about moving him last year,” Gustavus coach Peter Haugen said. “But he was our first backup at outside linebacker. He’s a tough runner, and he showed what he’s capable of today.”

Gustavus controlled most of the first half but couldn’t light up the scoreboard. A 13-play drive in the first quarter ended with a blocked field goal. Fortunes would change after Jade Kotilla’s second interception, which he returned to Northwestern’s 10. Logan Becker passed 7 yards to Muresuk Mena for the touchdown. The PAT was blocked

Later in the quarter, the Gusties were about to try a fourth-down play at Northwestern’s 6, but a penalty pushed the ball back five yards, and Tom Huepenbecker booted a 28-yard field goal that made it 9-0 at halftime.

Gustavus had nearly six minutes of possession more than Northwestern and had three interceptions. Yet the offense didn’t turn that into many points, prompting Haugen to change the game plan.

“We just had to stop screwing around and run the football,” he said.

The Gusties rushed for 87 yards on 21 carries in the first half, then gained 191 yards on 24 carries in the second half.

“We made some mistakes (in the first half), but the coaches came up with a good game plan in the second half,” Armstrong said. “We wanted to pound the ball at them, and we did that.”

Becker scored on a 4-yard run in the third quarter, then Armstrong had a 4-yard run early in the fourth. Jeffrey Dubose ended the scoring with a 35-yard run with 2:56 to play.

“It was a very important win,” Haugen said. “We respect every opponent, and Northwestern played very hard. Our guys played through some adversity in the first half and kept fighting. We want to make progress every week, and we did that.”

Gustavus finished with 434 yards of offense, while Northwestern had only 149 yards. Gustavus held Northwestern to only 53 yards of offense after the first quarter. Kotilla had five tackles and two interceptions, and Brandon Jonker made three tackles, including a sack.

“We had a tough first half, but we got better,” Armstrong said. “This was a step in the right direction.”

Gustavus (1-1) opens MIAC play Saturday with a homecoming game against St. Olaf.

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