Time of Poss.
NEW ULM, Minn. - The Martin Luther College football team battled tough against Gustavus Adolphus but was unable to hold on to a first half lead in a 32-20 defeat in Saturday's season-opener.
Disaster struck to open the game for the Knights as they fumbled the opening offensive snap, allowing the Gusties great field position they would take advantage of on the way to a 6-0 lead just one minute into the game.
Undeterred, the Knights roared back with a six-play, 70-yard drive capped by Austin DeNoyer's 23-yard touchdown run to take a 7-6 lead.
After a defensive three-and-out, the offense continued to roll thanks to a Zach Bloomquist 14-yard scramble into the end zone to push the MLC lead to 13-6 late in the first quarter.
The Gusties scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, but the Knights remained ahead (20-18) going into halftime thanks to a two-yard DeNoyer touchdown run.
GAC once again took advantage of an MLC miscue early in the third quarter. Following a six-yard punt by the Knights due to a poor snap, the Gusties made them pay immediately with a 20-yard touchdown pass to take a 25-20 lead.
The Knights continued to drive and put pressure on the Gusties, but were unable to finish three separate drives that stalled in GAC territory in the second half, allowing the Gusties to tack on one more score to secure the 32-20 result.
MLC dominated the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 38:12 for the game and recording 22 first downs (17 for GAC). The Knights ran the ball 64 times in the contest for 223 yards, led by DeNoyer's 94 rushing yards on 26 carries. Elliott Butler also had a strong day with 12 carries for 67 yards.
The passing game was held in check for much of the day, as Bloomquiest completed 12 of 26 passes for 84 yards. Josh Arndt caught a team-high six passes for 51 yards.
Defensively, the Knights held the high-powered Gusties' passing attack in check for most of the day. GAC finished with 354 total yards on offense, 248 of which came through the air. MLC also forced three Gustavus turnovers as Ian Paulsen, Keith Brassow and Jacob Schmidt each recovered one fumble.
Paulsen led the Knights with nine tackles. Joe Herrewig and Tristan Pankow added eight and six tackles, respectively.
MLC fell to 0-1 to open the season in defeat. Gustavus improved to 1-0 with the win.
The Knights will return to action on Saturday, September 8, when they travel to Rockford for a game scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m.