The Gustavus Football team won in dramatic fashion on Saturday by a score of 35-28.
The ending of the game resembled the Minneapolis Miracle, the game in which the Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 NFC divisional playoff game on the last play of the game to punch their ticket to the NFC Championship game.
In cold and snowy conditions, the Gusties traveled to Moorhead to take on the Cobbers.
The Gusties started slow in this one, with a fumble on the second play of the game. The Cobbers returned it to the one-yard line, and scored to go up 7-0.
The next possession ended in a punt for the Gusties, and Concordia ended up scoring once again to increase their lead to 14-0.
The Cobbers stuck to their game plan and ran the ball on all 11 plays of that drive.
Gustavus bounced back with a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run from Sophomore David Peal.
After stopping the Cobbers on their next drive, the Gusties put together another good drive and tied the score up at 14-14 with a touchdown pass to Senior Brice Panning.
Concordia couldn’t put up any more points as the first half ended, with the scored tied at 14-14. Gustavus out gained the Cobbers 128-88 in the first half.
Concordia received the second half kickoff and stormed down the field on a 7-play, 70-yard drive to take the lead 21-14.
Senior quarterback Michael Veldmann was intercepted on the next drive. However, the Cobbers were deep in their own territory, and the Gusties forced a three-and-out.
Starting in good field position, the Gusties went on a 10-play, 45-yard drive to even up the score at 21-21. The drive was finished off by first-year running back Dalton Hermes’ first collegiate touchdown.
After forcing a punt, Gustavus scored after two big passing plays. One for 50 yards to Senior Josh Kirk, and the other a 30-yard touchdown to Panning.
This gave the Gusties their first lead of the game, but unfortunately the extra point was missed.
Concordia got the ball back down 27-21, with just under nine minutes left in the game. They weren’t able to score any points, and Gustavus got the ball back with a chance to pad their lead.
However, another Veldmann interception gave the Cobbers good field position. They took advantage, and scored with 1:08 remaining.
The Gusties were down 28-27 and had almost the entire length of the field to go. After two penalties, they were forced back even farther to their own 7-yard line.
Veldmann connected with Kirk for a 15-yard gain, putting the ball at the 22-yard line.
This was when the miracle play happened, as Veldmann scrambled to the left and heaved a pass 50 yards in the air to Kirk, which he caught and ran in for a score.
Panning caught the two-point conversion attempt, and the Gusties took the lead 35-28. The Cobbers only had eight seconds to do something, and were unable to gain any yards on their two attempted plays.
Veldmann set the Gustavus record for passing yards at Concordia, as he was 21-32 with 395 yards and three touchdowns.
The Gustavus defense allowed only 228 total yards, and did not allow a single completed pass.
Playing a team that so rarely attempted a pass was a unique challenge for the Gusties, but they were ready for it.
“It’s classic, old school football. It demands that everyone on defense do their job, and any mistake can go for a big gain. It definitely has its own set of challenges,” Senior Jake Boykin said.
Boykin and Sophomore Zach Jakes led the defense with eight tackles each.
Head Coach Peter Haugen was happy with his team’s effort and resiliency on Saturday.
“Great effort today by our players,” Haugen said. “We stayed positive and poised after some adversity. Concordia was strong all day but were able to hang in there and play big in the fourth quarter. Today was a total team effort.”
The Gusties improved to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the conference with the win. They will look to keep it going when they host Hamline Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.