Gustie football wins thriller

Parker Burman-

This past weekend, the Gustavus Football team squared off with Bethel for the MIAC Conference Championship. The Gusties would fall behind early and, sadly, would not be able to dig themselves out of the hole. Bethel would go on to win the game 31-7 in a convincing fashion to claim the MIAC title.

On Bethel’s first possession, the Gustavus defense forced a three and out, but on the punt attempt, Bethel pulled off a fake punt that would go for a 76-yard touchdown score, putting them up 7-0 early in the contest. The Gusties were unable to answer on their next two possessions and the Royals scored twice more in that time to push their lead to 17-0.

“I think the team fought extremely hard throughout the entire game; we did not let up until the last whistle. We all knew what we were fighting for and that really lit a fire under us. Even when things weren’t going our way, we stayed united and fought together. I think this is a true testament of our brotherhood,” Senior and Receiver Matthew Carreon said.

Both defenses would clamp down the opposing offenses for more throughout the next two quarters as not a single point was scored in either the second or third quarter. The Gustavus offense would show late life after three-quarters of stalled-out drives. Junior Quarterback George Sandven would find First-year Tight End Jordan Wold for the 29-yard touchdown pass, the first of Wold’s career, to put the Gusties down 17-7.

The fleeting hopes of a Gustavus comeback evaporated after Bethel went on a 13-play 75-yard scoring drive that would put them up 24-7. This was the death blow to the Gusties’ hopes as a turnover on the next Gustavus drive, followed by another Bethel score, put the game away with a score of 31-7.

Bethel controlled the ground game and time of possession for nearly the entire game, limiting Gustavus’ opportunities for the ball. The Royals picked up 320 yards on the ground while the Gusties were limited to a total of 235 yards of offense with only 20:14 of possession time to Bethel’s 39:46.

Even though the season did not end in a conference title for Gustavus, it was an overall highly successful season. The Gusties finish the year with an overall record of 6-4 and a record of 5-3 in conference play.

“I believe this season was a success for us. Although the record might not show it, we had a great year. Never in my career have I had three games come down to the last play of the game and add that to upsetting the number 7 team in the nation at the time at home made it even more special. The team improved each week and was evident towards the end of the year as we were a much more put-together team that was finishing tough games on top,” Junior Linebacker Jack Klug said.

“The biggest thing that I will take away from this season is our resilience. We started off the year 1-3 and we finished the year in a position to play for the conference championship. Something that hasn’t happened in 36 years,” Sandven said.

Sandven finished the season leading the offense with 3,372 yards passing, 31 passing touchdowns, and three more scores with his legs. His passing yardage totals ranked him third in the entire country for Division III Football.  “I think that is a representation of how great our O-line and receivers were. The O-line gave me plenty of time to throw the ball down the field to an extremely talented group of receivers that made huge plays every game,” Sandven said.

Senior Linebacker Carson DeKam led the team in tackles with 93 total on the season, beating his previous high from last year by one. In addition, he picked up eight tackles for loss and three sacks – plus an interception.

“My goal every season is to work hard, be a great teammate and leader, and do my job every play. The glory goes to the scout offense for providing great looks during practice every day. That allows our defense to play fast on Saturday and make plays. They did a tremendous job all season. My teammates and coaches are also imperative to giving me confidence on game day. They trust me to do my job, and I trust them to do theirs. That trust is so beneficial to being successful,” DeKam said.

Leading Gustavus Senior Receiver Jake Breitbach finished second in the nation with 1,599 receiving yards and second with 110 receptions. Both of these totals more than doubled his previous career highs from last season.

“It is pretty cool to see. It’s a good feeling when you see hard work pay off, but now I have something to build off of for next year,” Breitbach said.


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