The Gustavus Football team took their first loss of the 2016 season last weekend when they lost a nail-biter to the Hamline Pipers in St. Paul. The Gustie offense had a chance after a forced safety brought them within two points of the Pipers with 35 seconds to go in the game, but they weren’t able to overcome the deficit. The final score was 42-40 in Hamline’s favor, but the game could’ve gone either way.
“We had a few chances to win on offense but didn’t get it done today,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “Some of the mistakes early in the game hurt, but we rallied back in the second half, it just didn’t come all the way around. It’s a disappointing loss, but we’re moving on,” Coach Haugen said.
The two teams grappled for the lead the entire game– Gustavus led 3-0 after a relatively uneventful first quarter. Hamline led 21-17 after the action escalated in the second quarter and both teams found the endzone multiple times. Gustavus added two more touchdowns in the third quarter and had a comfortable ten-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
“We are throwing some young guys into the fire and we’ll keep growing and learning and try to get better next week.” — Coach Haugen
Hamline never gave up, and began the fourth quarter with two straight touchdown drives to take the lead. Haffner and the Gustie offense then came up with the longest play of the game, an 82-yard touchdown pass to Sophomore Jamison Beulke to regain the lead, 38-35. The Pipers took the lead back shortly after, finding the endzone one last time, making the score 42-38. Gustavus made one last push and forced a safety, but they weren’t able to score in the final 35 seconds, and the game ended 42-40 in Hamline’s favor.
The Gusties had no trouble scoring the ball, but couldn’t stop Hamline’s Quarterback, Justice Spriggs, who completed 29-41 passes for 475 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Despite their struggle to slow down Spriggs’ pass game, the Gusties were able to apply some pressure on the Quarterback, and completely shut down Hamline’s run game–allowing only 17 yards on 29 attempts.
Sophomore Jordan Kahlow led the defensive effort for the Gusties with 8 tackles and an interception that he returned 46 yards for a touchdown.
“We had four sacks today so it was good to get a little pressure on the quarterback,” Haugen said. “We have to continue to do that.”
On offense, the Gusties were led once again by a strong performance from junior Running back Karim Oritz. Ortiz has stepped into the starting role in the absence of Luke Martinez, and had his second consecutive week with over 150 yards. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry with 155 yards on 34 carries, and added two touchdowns. Junior Hunter Johnson was the favorite target of Freshman Quarterback Christian Haffner, hauling in six catches and accounting for 104 of Haffner’s 273 passing yards.
Haffner was 14-25 and threw 2 touchdowns and one interception in his first start for the Gusties. Haffner played meaningful minutes in the win over Augsburg, but Saturday was his first start under center, and overall Coach Haugen was happy with his play.
“Our young quarterback made some big plays in key spots, and that’s an area where we are going to have to continue to grow,” Haugen said.
Junior Kicker Brendan Boche was solid as usual, and opened the game with a 39-yard field goal. He then went a perfect 5-5 on extra points. Boche was MIAC Special Teams Athlete of the Week three weeks ago and has continued his exceptional play.
“The kicking game was solid today so that was a really good sign.” Haugen said.
This loss moves the Gustavus football team to 3-1 on the season and 1-1 in the MIAC. The Gusties had beaten Hamline in their last 10 meetings, and hadn’t lost a game in which they scored 40 or more points since 1975. However, Coach Haugen remains optimistic and focused on improving his relatively inexperienced team week by week.
“We are throwing some young guys into the fire and we’ll keep growing and learning and try to get better next week.” Haugen said.
The Gusties will play host to MIAC foe Concordia at Hollingsworth field on Saturday, October 1st for Homecoming.