The Gusties lost their homecoming football game on Saturday to Bethel by a score of 35-33.
In this high scoring game, there were a total of 40 points scored between the two teams in the fourth quarter alone.
With the loss, the Gusties fall to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
The Gusties started slow in this game, as an interception on their first drive led to a Bethel touchdown.
After a few drives, the Royals were able to score again to take a 14-0 lead.
Bethel decided to go for it on fourth and short in their own territory, but was stopped by the Gustie defense.
Gustavus capped off the drive with a touchdown run from Sophomore David Peal.
Even though Bethel had two times as many total yards that Gustavus had, the Gusties were only down 14-7 at halftime.
After another interception, the Royals were given a chance to increase their lead. However, the 32-yard field goal attempt was missed and the Gustavus offense took over.
The Gusties capped off their drive with a touchdown pass to Senior Brice Panning, tying the game at 14 a piece.
Bethel put together a lengthy drive based on the ground game to close out the third quarter.
They scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving them a 21-14 lead.
After a couple of nice completions from Senior quarterback Michael Veldmann, the Gusties scored on a touchdown pass to Sophomore Dalton Thelen.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Gusties executed a squib kick to once again take over in Bethel territory.
A six-yard touchdown pass to Senior Brayton Finch gave the Gusties the lead. The extra point was missed, which left the score at 27-21.
The Royals quickly stormed down the field and scored, converting the extra point and taking the lead 28-27.
The first play after the kickoff was intercepted, giving Bethel good field position and a chance to score once again.
They did just that, and found the end zone to increase their lead to 35-27.
The Gusties eventually scored again on an acrobatic one-handed catch by Panning, which cut the score to 35-33. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, and the Royals recovered the onside kick attempt and eventually ran out the clock.
Despite the loss, Gustavus Head Coach Peter Haugen had a few positive takeaways.
“We knew it was going to be a competitive game,” Haugen said. “I loved what we did early on that fourth down when we got that stop, it really changed the momentum and then we just hung in there. We had a shot at the end with a nice drive down the field but turnovers are the day. They’re always tough things but we’ll learn from it, and get back at it.”
Veldmann finished 21/44 with 269 passing yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Panning had nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
Senior Jake Krull led the team in tackles with nine, and Seniors Avery Bachman and Jake Boykin finished with seven each.
“I think we stayed positive despite an early deficit. The defense was able to display some toughness and get an early turnover on downs. The offense put up 33 points on a top defense in the country,” Boykin said. “Veldman and the offensive line were able to have a really productive pass protection and throwing game despite Bethel sending 6-man pressures for most of the game.”
After playing some tough competition early in the season, the Gusties will try and use the experience they gained in those games and take it into the rest of the season.
“At this point we have played two top-7 teams in the country pretty well. We have another test after the bye with an improved Concordia team, but we need to continue to improve as the season continues,” Boykin said. “I think some can see that as a challenge after playing great competition early in the year, but I think it’s been crucial for this team’s identity to see the potential for this team. The next 6 weeks are an opportunity to play great football regardless of opponent, and work to be a team that can make a playoff run if our name gets called.”
The Gusties have a bye week next week, but will look to get back on track as they travel to Moorhead to play Concordia on Oct. 12.