/seasons/2018/contrib/20180901pdz22i

Knights Battle but Fall in Opener to Gustavus

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 PaulsenKeith 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.

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D3football.com Top 25, preseason

The D3football.com Top 25, entering the 2019 season. This is the 17th season of the D3football.com Top 25.

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1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (24) 15-0 624
2 Mount Union (1) 14-1 599
3 St. John's 12-1 566
4 UW-Whitewater 12-1 555
5 North Central (Ill.) 10-2 482
6 Johns Hopkins 12-2 457
7 St. Thomas 8-2 414
8 Muhlenberg 11-2 405
9 Hardin-Simmons 9-2 397
10 Bethel 11-2 396  
11 Whitworth 10-1 336  
12 Linfield 7-2 291  
13 Brockport 11-1 230  
14 Delaware Valley 9-2 223  
15 Illinois Wesleyan 8-2 197  
16 Berry 10-2 190  
17 John Carroll 9-2 168  
18 Wittenberg 9-1 162  
19 RPI 10-2 152  
20 Centre 10-2 137  
21 Washington and Jefferson 9-2 132  
22 Wheaton (Ill.) 8-2 109  
23 Wabash 9-1 105  
24 Randolph-Macon 9-3 91  
25 St. Norbert 10-2 83

Others receiving votes: Trine 73; UW-La Crosse 71; Wartburg 61; Wesley 59; Washington U. 58; Montclair State 49; Alfred 48; Ithaca 42; UW-Oshkosh 40; Central 29; Case Western Reserve 25; Baldwin Wallace 20; Salisbury 15; Trinity (Texas) 10; Hope 10; Redlands 6; Marietta 3; Trinity (Conn.) 3, MIT 2.

The D3football.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis.