The Gustavus Men’s football team currently holds a 1-0 record after starting their season with a victorious 32-20 win over the Martin Luther Knights last Saturday when they traveled to New Ulm.
Despite trailing by two at the end of the first half, the Gusties regrouped at halftime to battle back and take a hold of the game.
In the first half, Gustavus stayed on their game defensively, only allowing the Knights 84 yards through the air but struggled to get their offense going.
The Gusties are returning a strong core of players, including Senior Michael Veldman who notched 143 completions good for 1931 yards and 19 touchdowns before an injury ended his season early.
Also returning to the team is Senior Matt Berkner, who earned a place on the MIAC All-Conference Second Team and recorded 69 tackles last season.
Another leading force for the team will be Junior Brayton Finch, who completing 28 receptions for 412 yards last season, scoring one touchdown. In the Gusties’ first game Finch completed 4 receptions and one touchdown.
“We really underestimated the other team and let them take over in the first half, but during our halftime speech we got more energy and were ready to win,” Finch said.
Head Coach Peter Haugen did his best to fire up the team and get them back to their game plan at halftime, and his efforts paid off.
“We really underestimated the team and let them take over in the first half, but during our halftime speech we got more energy and were ready to win.”
“The adjustment in the second half really had to take place within our hearts,” Haugen said. “We were really jacked up at the beginning of the game and I thought we were going to come out strong, and we did in the first minute of the game, but it may have gotten us a little complacent. You have to give Martin Luther credit. They gave us some more man coverage than we anticipated, but we made a couple adjustments there and settled down in the second half.”
The Gusties truly came to play in the second half, bringing the score to a lead after Finch caught a pass from Senior Michael Veldman down on the left side for a 20 yard touchdown early in the third quarter.
Martin Luther was not backing down however, tallying 48 offensive plays in the second half but were completely shut down by the Gusties in the last 30 minutes.
Veldman continued to keep the pressure on for the Gusties with a six yard touchdown, keeping the score a comfortable 32-20 finishing out the game.
Haugen said he is optimistic about the team’s next game and wants to focus on the basics going into practice this week.
“We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball. That’s key,” Haugen said. “And we need to be better at the tackle point. We had a few opportunities to get them into fourth down and we just need to wrap up there.”
On Saturday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. the Gusties will face off at Hollingsworth Field for their home opener against the UW-Stout Blue Devils, who are currently 0-1 after falling to Saint John’s 0-27.
The Hill Crew will also be hosting a “White Out” theme for the game with a kick, punt, and pass event at halftime featuring the Gustie Greeters with free rally towels for the first 100 fans to check in with The Hill Crew App.