Defense Holds Early Lead, Gustavus Prevails 23-13 Over Carleton In Season Finale
The Gustavus football ended its season on a hight note by defeating Carleton 23-13 in the 2010 season finale on Sunday afternoon in St. Peter, Minn. The Gustavus offense exploded for 20 points in the first quarter and the defense held the lead for the remainder of the game. Gustavus finishes the season 4-6 overall and 3-5 in the MIAC, while Carleton concludes its season 3-7 overall and 2-6 in the MIAC.
It was Senior Day at Hollingsworth Field and-fittingly so-seniors led the Gusties to victory in their final collegiate game. Greg Lane led Gustavus on the ground with 57 yards on 12 carries (4.8 avg.), and Cody Sukalski turned in the best receiving performance of his career, catching eight passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, senior linebackers Paul Stommes, Zach Lundquist, Jade Kotila, and Dustin Kammerer led the way. Stommes made 15 tackles and picked off one pass, Lundquist made 14 tackles and recovered a fumble, Kotila made 10 tackles and one sack, and Kammerer recorded eight tackles.
"I can't say enough about our seniors, what a terrific effort by them. They deserve it after all the time and effort that they have put in over the past four years," said Head Coach Peter Haugen. "It is a special day for our program but an even more significant day for our seniors because they get to go out on top."
The first quarter was Gustavus's best of the season. The Gusties drove the ball 64 yards on five plays for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Logan Becker hit Sukalski on a 10-yard touchdown pass and Tom Huepenbecker added the extra point to put Gustavus up 7-0. The defense forced a Carleton three-and-out, and the Gusties scored on the ensuing possession. Becker hit Sukalski on a 77-yard post on the opening play of the drive, setting up first and goal from the three-yard-line. The pass was the longest of the season for the Gusties. Becker scored a touchdown on a three-yard dive the next play to extend the lead to 14-0 after Huepenbecker's extra point.
The Gusties took a page out of Sean Payton's playbook on the following kickoff when Huepenbecker recovered his own onside kick. Carleton forced a punt following the onsider, yet Gustavus got the ball back when Sukalski's punt hit the back of a Carleton player's foot and Zach Lundquist recovered the fumble. Becker hit Sukalski for his second touchdown of the game on a nine-yard strike at the 5:18 mark, extending the lead to 20-0. Huepenbecker's point after attempt was blocked by Conor Lynch.
"I'm really proud of the way the guys bounced back from a really difficult loss last week. The offense came out of the gate right away an put up big numbers, scoring three times to put us up early and that was key," said Haugen.
The Knights got on the board at the 10:40 mark of the second quarter when Jon Lien dove into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, making the score 20-7. The first half would come to a close with a 23-yard field goal by Carleton's Eric Murphy (20-10) and a 35-yard field goal by Huepenbecker (23-10). Logan Becker was an efficient 12-for-20 for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, while Carleton QB Vaughn Schmid was 7-for-15 for 81 yards and one interception.
Carleton opened up the second half with a 12-play 56-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal (23-13) by Murphy at the 9:36 mark of the third quarter. The Carleton defense completely shut Gustavus down in the second half, allowing just four first downs and 77 total yards.
Defensive Coordinator Brian Bergstrom's defensive unit stepped up to the challenge of holding the lead in the second half. Following the Carleton field goal to start the half, the Gustavus defense forced a turnover on downs, and put an end to three threatening drives in the fourth quarter with interceptions deep in Gustie territory. Dan Optiz picked off Conor Lynch's pass at the 27-yard-line at the 14:05 mark, Brad Kruckeberg recorded his sixth interception of the season on seven-yard-line at the 10:54 mark, and Jason Cook put to rest any comeback hopes with a pick on the nine-yard-line at the 2:37 mark.
"The defense played outstanding today. They made big plays in really critical times to keep Carleton off the scoreboard late in the game," commented Haugen.
Gustavus gained 165 yards rushing and 212 yards passing for a total of 377 yards in the game. Logan Becker finished 17-for-29 for 212 yards and two touchdowns passing, while rushing 19 times for 47 yards and one touchdown. The Knights ran for 79 yards and passed for 212 yards for a total 293 yards in the game. Carleton's Lynch played the entire second half at quarterback for the Knights, going 12-for-21 for 133 yards through the air. Jon Lien led Carleton in rushing with 16 carries for 46 yards.
Red-zone scoring had been Gustavus's Achilles heel all season; yet the Gusties turned it around and were 4-for-5 with three touchdowns today in the red-zone. Carleton was 3-for-3 in red-zone scoring, while Gustavus controlled the time of possession 31:50 to 28:10. The Gusties finish the 2010 season in sixth place in the MIAC standings.
The Gustavus Athletic Department would like to extend a sincere thank you to the 19 seniors who have devoted themselves to the Gustie Football Program for the past four years. The 2010 Gustavus football senior class is the first to play its entire career on the field-turf of New Hollingsworth Field. Thank you seniors for your hard work and commitment to Gustavus football. The 19 seniors include Cody Sukalski, Tyler Melhorn, Dustin Kammerer, David Papas, Jade Kotila, John Juran, Mike Mohs, Greg Lane, JJ Akin, Lucas Armstrong, Zach Lundquist, Paul Stommes, Chris Martinez, Brandon Jonker, and Matt Henderson, Andrew Valen, Brian Wille, Luke Olson, and Zach Umbreit.