The Free Press, Mankato, MN

College Sports

September 11, 2010

Gustavus starts fast but gets left behind

Wartburg burns Gustavus' defense for 266 rushing yards

ST PETER — One team already had a game under its belt this season, and the other one didn’t. It wasn’t too difficult to tell which one was which.

Playing its first game of the season on Saturday afternoon at Hollingsworth Field, the Gustavus Adolphus football team had four turnovers and eight penalties and allowed 266 rushing yards in a 27-6 loss to now 2-0 Wartburg.

“(The Knights) were certainly a little cleaner than we were in terms of running their offense,” Gusties coach Peter Haugen said. “But we had more practice.”

The Gusties allowed 432 yards of offense — including running back Reese Thompson’s 164-yard day — while compiling 239 of their own.

Aside from scoring a touchdown on their first drive of the season, there were few highlights for the home team.

“It definitely felt like the first game — to me, anyway,” senior running back Greg Lane said. “We still have the potential to put things together. We’ll come around.”

Offensively, the Gusties need to look no further than their first drive for motivation.

They opened the season in fine form, going on a 14-play, 71-yard march capped by sophomore Muresuk Mena’s 9-yard run to the left pylon for the 6-0 lead.

 The 7-minute, 19-second drive was kept alive by a roughing-the-punter penalty and Lane’s 2-yard run on fourth-and-inches.

“What a great way to get started,” Haugen said.

However, the ensuing PAT was blocked, and Wartburg, which was coming off a season-opening victory over Monmouth, quickly took the lead.

On the Knights’ first offensive play, quarterback Dan Stiefel hit Levi Helbling, who was streaking down the left sideline, for 64 yards. Helbling was tackled at the 1-yard-line and, two plays later, Stiefel sneaked in to tie the game. Kicker Marcus Williams’ PAT made it 7-6.

The two teams traded turnovers over the rest of the half. Lane and Gusties quarterback Logan Becker each lost a fumble, and Becker threw the first of two interceptions. Meanwhile, Gustavus defenders Jason Cook and Paul Stommes each picked off Stiefel.

“We moved the ball well on them,” Lane said. “We showed that we could run it on them. That was our plan. But stupid penalties and not protecting the football got us down. We just have to step up and put that behind us.”

Wartburg took a 13-6 lead with 3:35 to play in the second quarter when Brandon Sims scored from 11 yards out. The seven-play, 55-yard drive was aided by a late-hit, out-of-bounds penalty, and the Knights successfully pulled off a fake field goal, opting to have holder Josh Mugge run for a first down rather than go for a 37-yard try.

Trailing 13-6 at halftime, Haugen said his team was “right in the game.”

“We wanted to play the field position game in the third quarter,” he said.

But the Knights found a new weapon in Thompson.

After getting eight carries for 22 yards in the first half, Thompson had 12 carries for 117 yards in the third quarter alone.

His 76-yard run up the middle on the second play of the third quarter led to another 1-yard touchdown by Stiefel. On Wartburg’s second possession of the frame, Thompson scored from 4 yards out.

“They’re a very good football team,” Haugen said of the Knights.

Becker, a junior who was making his first start at quarterback for the Gusties, finished 17 of 29 for 117 yards and was sacked five times. He was also Gustavus’ top rusher with 15 carries for 42 yards.

Up next, Gustavus (0-1) will host Northwestern (St. Paul) on Saturday. It will be the Gusties’ second and final nonconference game before starting Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

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