St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus football team suffered a heartbreaking 26-24 loss to Augsburg College on Saturday afternoon at Hollingsworth Field. With just :10 seconds remaining and Gustavus leading 24-20, Augsburg quarterback Ayrton Scott heaved a prayer towards the end zone. The ball came down into the hands of teammate Hakeem Bourne-McFarlane, who carried several Gusties across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown.
Augsburg improves to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC with the victory, while Gustavus is now 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC.
"Certainly it's a disappointing loss but I'm proud of the way our guys played this afternoon," said Head Coach Peter Haugen following the game. "We don't have a lot of time to dwell on this one, so we'll bounce back and get ready for St. Olaf starting tomorrow."
If football fans attended today's "St. Peter Day" game expecting big offensive numbers, they were certainly not disappointed in what they wittnessed. Augsburg totaled 475 yards (192 rush, 283 pass) and Gustavus racked up 438 yards (199 rush, 239 pass) for a combined 913 yards of total offense.
The first quarter was nearly entirely consumed by two long drives by each team. Augsburg took the opening possession 67 yards on 12 plays, eating up 7:26 before missing a field goal from 30 yards out. Gustavus then capitalized on the next drive with a Tom Huepenbecker (Sr., Middleton, Wis.) 19-yard field goal (3-0) that capped a 15-play, 77-yard drive that took 7:14.
It would take until the :13-second mark of the second quarter before points were put on the scoreboard again. Gustavus capitalized on a forced fumble by safety Beau Bachman (Jr., St. Peter, Minn.) that was recovered by linebacker Joe Haas (Jr., Mission, Kan.) at the Augsburg 22-yard line. Quarterback Mursek Mena (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) found Michael Hintze (So., Brooklyn Park, Minn.) on a three-yard slant to put Gustavus on top 10-0. It was Hintze's first career touchdown, as the sophomore would finish the game with 53 yards on five catches.
Augsburg would take back the momentum on the ensuing kickoff and head into the locker room trailing 10-7. After catching the kick on the 18-yard line, Bourne McFarland reversed his field several times and dodged multiple tacklers before seeing daylight on the far sideline. Picking up a convoy of blockers, he took the ball 82 yards for the score.
Gustavus' offense gained a total of 179 yards of total offense in the first half, while the defense came up with two fumble recoveries and allowed 162 total yards.
After Gustavus failed to score points inside the red-zone on the opening drive of the second half, Augsburg went 86 yards on six plays to score a touchdown and grab its first lead of the game at 14-10. Scott found tight end Adam Carl on a skinny post from 28 yards out for his first receiving touchdown of the afternoon.
The Gusties answered on the next drive with a touchdown of their own, taking the lead back at 17-14 with 5:24 left in the third quarter. Mena connected with Phillip Butler (Jr., St. Paul, Minn.) on a bubble screen at the 12-yard line and the junior receiver leaped into the near corner of the end zone for his first touchdown of the year.
On what looked like to be sure points in store for the Auggies on their next drive, sophomore safety Jake Forcier (Watkins, Minn.) came up with a key defensive play that kept Gustavus in control of the lead and the ball at the start of the fourth quarter. After Augsburg's Carl was wrapped up following a short catch-and-run on the far sideline, Forcier ripped the ball from his hands at the ten-yard line and returned it to the Gustavus 21.
The Auggies came up with a turnover of their own on the next drive when Kaleb Williams picked off Mena with 7:02 left in the game. Augsburg turned the interception into points five minutes later when Carl redeemed himself with his second touchdown catch of the game, putting the Auggies up 20-17 after the extra point attempt was missed. Carl led all receivers in the game, making nine grads for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
With 2:13 on the game clock, Muresuk Mena orchestrated a seven-play, 66-yard scoring drive that put Gustavus on top 24-20 with 1:04 left to play. For the second game in a row, Mena hooked up with Jeffrey Dubose (Jr., St. Paul, Minn.) on the touchdown pass, hitting his running back on a wheel route from the 19-yard line.
The victory seemed all but sealed after Kellan Euerle (Jr., St. Cloud, Minn.) gave the Gustavus offense the ball back with :54 seconds on the clock after he picked off Scott on Gustavus' 42-yard line. This, however, was not the case, as Augsburg gained the possession back on its own 20-yard line following a Gustavus punt. Scott then marched the Auggies 38 yards in :24 seconds before his Hail Mary hookup with Bourne-McFarlane.
Both quarterbacks put their dual threat capabilities on full display at Hollingsworth Field this afternoon. Scott ran for 163 yards on 23 carries, and was 19-for-36 for 283 yards and three touchdowns through the air. His counterpart Mena ran for 80 yards on 21 carries, and was 19-for-27 for 239 yards with three touchdowns passing.
Gustavus' offensive line was once again superb, allowing just one sack and creating holes that led to 199 yards of rushing offense. Dubose finished with 70 yards on 14 carries, while Butler had 49 yards on six carries.
Andre Creighton (Sr., St. Paul, Minn.) led the Gusties in receiving with 72 yards on six catches, three of which were key first down grabs.
The Gustavus defense recovered three fumbles and picked off one pass, helping the team to win the turnover battle for the second-straight week. The defense also held the Auggies scoreless on three of their four red-zone chances.
The Gustavus football team will look to get back on track next weekend when it travels to Northfield, Minn. to take on St. Olaf at 1:00 p.m.