After opening up the season with a strong 50-19 victory over Martin Luther Sept. 7, the Gustavus Football team kept things rolling, defeating UW-Stout 41-31 the following weekend.
Head Coach Peter Haugen was impressed with the effort he saw from the team and coaching staff on the team’s first win of the season.
“Our coaches did a nice job getting these guys ready to go and I can’t give our players enough credit for their efforts,” Haugen said. “I’m thankful for the win and proud of our guys. There are certainly plenty of things we’ll have to get better with but that’s how it is every week.”
Heading into its next game with ample amounts of confidence, the team geared up for another battle against UW-Stout Sept. 14.
The strong connection between Senior quarterback Michael Veldman and Senior wide receiver Josh Kirk was once again on full display.
After the defense forced a three and out on the first possession of the game, the duo made quick work of the Stout defense.
The Gusties marched down the field on three connections between Veldman and Kirk, the third ultimately finding the end zone.
Veldman then ran the ball in for a two-point conversion to take an early 8-0 lead.
However, Stout rebounded from this early blow and scored in their next possession on an 18-yard run and followed it up with a successful two-point conversion of their own.
As the second quarter began, a Gustie error led to a fumble recovery for Stout. On the first play of the drive, the Blue Devils quarterback launched the ball downfield and connected for a touchdown.
After a successful extra point the Gusties found themselves trailing 15-8 in the second quarter.
Despite this push by Stout, the Gusties were determined to even things out before half and the back-and-forth nature of the game continued.
After an 11 play, 51-yard drive, Veldman found the end zone once again on a rush to bring the score to 15-14 and proceeded to complete another two-point conversion to go up 17-14.
On the following Blue Devil drive, Senior Avery Bachman recorded his first interception of the year to give the offense another shot.
Veldman kept firing and connected with Senior Brice Panning for 36 yards and then again for a 17-yard touchdown.
The Gusties kept the pressure on to finish out the half and after another forced three and out Sophomore David Peal was able to run the ball in to extend the team’s lead to 28-17 going into half.
In the second half of the game, Veldman was able to connect with Kirk again for a touchdown.
After an unsuccessful change in possession for Stout, Veldman was able to complete another drive down the field and capped it off with another touchdown run to put Gustavus up 41-17.
The rest of the game was comprised of Stout attempting to make a comeback, notching two touchdowns late in the game to bring the score to 41-31.
The Gusties ultimately ran out the clock and took home the road victory.
“It was a strong overall effort for the team today,” Haugen said. “Key turnovers by our defense and our offense made some big plays and sustained a key six to seven minute drive in the fourth quarter.
We played with great energy and had great support from our fans.”
After a strong 2-0 start to the season the team is looking promising heading into MIAC play, however, it has a tough road ahead.
The Gusties play this Saturday at 1 p.m. Sept. 21 against No. 3 ranked St. John’s in what is sure to be a hard-fought game.