Football Rolls in Season Opener

Parker Burman Sports Writer

The Gustavus football team once again started off their season in Iowa for a showdown with Buena Vista University. Last year, the Gusties started off with a bang in an 80-58 victory which tied a Division lll record for most combined regulation points. Hoping to have that same high powered offense, the Gusties were confident entering their first game of the year.

When the clock had struck all zeroes at the end of the fourth quarter, the Gusties secured a 62-20 victory over BVU. It was a complete victory with the offense dominating throughout the game and the defense locking down their side of the ball, key turnovers keeping the momentum in favor of the Gusties.

“It is always exciting going into that first game, but we knew that it was important to keep what happened last year out of our minds, because at the end of the day we are facing a new team in a new season. So we just came into the game with a mindset of playing our style of football and not getting ahead of ourselves,” Junior receiver Jake Breitbach said.

Gustavus was able to put points up on the board early. First-year starting quarterback Daniel Rennie found Breitbach open for the 15-yard touchdown toss to cap a 74-yard and seven play drive with 8:20 remaining in the first quarter. “It felt pretty surreal getting my first college start especially here at Gustavus. I felt very prepared with all the work I put in during the off-season and the work we put in during camp with the offensive guys along with the coaching staff,” Rennie said.

On their third possession of the game, BVU lined up to attempt a 40-yard field goal. The kick was blocked by Senior defensive lineman Zach Jakes, who scooped up the ball and rumbled all the way down to the BVU 30-yard line. Gustavus was unable to capitalize on the BVU turnover as they committed a turnover of their own with an interception. However, a three and out on BVU’s next possession put the ball back into Rennie’s hand. Rennie marched the Gusties down the field for a six play drive which ended on another 29-yard touchdown throw to Breitbach.

“[I] absolutely love throwing to all the playmakers we got on the outside this year. All of them have the ability to make explosive plays,” Rennie said.

The Gustavus defense continued to dominate as they forced yet another BVU three and out. Senior receiver Dalton Thelen secured the BVU punt and took it all the way down to the BVU 37-yard line. One play later Gustavus was back in the endzone as Junior running back Rohee Konde broke off a 37-yard touchdown run to put the Gusties up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Buena Vista had another drive stall after Jakes dropped back into coverage and picked off a screen pass. Rennie once again took advantage, connecting with senior receiver Mathew Kipper for the 21-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 11:53 remaining in the second quarter. 

The defense forced another punt which set up the Gustavus offense on their own 16-yard line. Making it to midfield, the drive stalled as the Gusties were unable to make a first down. Making a gutsy call to go for it on fourth down paid off as senior running back David Peal took the fourth down carry for a 46-yard touchdown run, increasing the Gustavus lead to a commanding 35-0.

The Gustie defense forced a BVU fumble in their own territory and recovered it at the BVU 33-yard line. Rennie led the offense to the goal line where he executed a quarterback sneak for the touchdown to push the Gustavus lead to 42-0. The ball was right back into Rennie’s hands after another three and out was forced by the defense. Rennie found Breitbach for their third connection of the half for the 49-0 lead going into the half.

The second half started off the same as the first half had ended when Junior defensive back Isaiah Chambers intercepted BVU. Gustavus got the ball back and capped off the possession with a touchdown. Buena Vista broke the shutout with 12:36 remaining in the game on a 56-yard touchdown pass, but the extra point was blocked, making the score 56-6.

With the Gusties holding onto a very comfortable lead, they were able to rotate in less experienced or younger players. One of those players was Sophomore quarterback George Sandven who took over the reins of the offense late in the game from Rennie. He took advantage of his opportunity finding junior receiver Major Martin for a 5-yard touchdown pass, for his first career touchdown pass.

“When Major scored the touchdown I was very excited. We had a great drive and it was nice to finish it with a touchdown,” Sandven said.

Gustavus currently sits tied for first with Saint John’s in the Northwoods division, with both having 1-0 records. The Gusties are confident that a complete game to start the year on both sides of the ball is just an example of what is to come this season, as they strive to secure a MIAC Championship for the first time since 1987. “I think that we are going to have a great season and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We have a great mix of veterans as well as some up and coming young guys with lots of potential,” Breitbach said.

“My outlook is to take each practice, lift, game one at a time. Try to go 1-0 each week and not get ahead of ourselves looking down the road. Obviously the end goal being winning the MIAC championship this year but first continue to keep trying to win the day each day,” Rennie said.

Gustavus is off for the week but will be back in action on September 17 at home against the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  

 

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