The Augsburg Auggies had a huge day on offense. They rolled up 546 yards of total offense and 31 points. They had a blistering running attack that garnered 200 yards on the ground. Those are numbers that are worthy of victory on virtually any other day, against virtually any other opponent, but not against these Gustavus Adolphus Gusties. This team, led by Air Marshal Mitch Hendricks, is putting up unbelievable numbers so far this season, and Saturday was no exception as they downed the Auggies 55-31.
A breakdown of drives is not necessary for readers to understand the kind of day that Hendricks had. All that needs to be said is the number seven. Seven is the number of touchdowns that the Air Marshall threw with five going to brothers Matt and Gabriel Boyce. Forget the 2000 St. Louis Rams and their “Greatest Show on Turf.” This is Cirque de Gustie. This is an aerial show that defies imagination. This is precious and guts, training and technique. This is 11 guys performing and making plays that leave an audience wondering how they did that. This is Gusties football.
Here is another sampling of what a huge day GAC had. They had 14 possessions on the day. One possession ended with the first half. One time Hendricks was intercepted. Three times they punted. One time they missed a field goal. The other eight times? Touchdowns. Eight touchdowns.
Don’t be mistaken though. The Auggies offense looked good as well. Augsburg scored four touchdowns and added a field goal, but early on in the game they were punting the ball while Gustavus was putting up touchdowns. In additions, three interceptions by QB Ayrton Scott, two in the fourth quarter, ended a late-game comeback and sealed the victory for Gustavus Adolphus.
The game started out well for the Gusties and it was the defense that got it rolling. Augsburg received the opening kick-off and Scott went to the air. He completed his first two passes for a first down, but his third pass was picked off by Jake Forcier, giving GAC the ball at the Augsburg 40. The offense moved the ball to the 14, but there they stalled. Thomas Schleusener came in to attempt a 31-yard field goal, but he missed wide right, keeping the score tied at zero.
The Gusties defense would hold again, giving the ball back to Hendricks and his band of aerial performers. This time they would not be denied. Starting from their own 38, the GAC offense moved 9-plays for the score. The Air Marshall completed all five passes on the drive, and DaiVon Poole ran in from three yards out to make it a 7-0 game.
The Auggies responded immediately, as Scott led an 11-play, 74-yard drive that led to a 12-yard strike to Joey Sonnnenfeld to tie the game. Scott completed four of six passes on the drive for 37 yards and also ran three times for 12 more.
From there Hendricks took over the game. On their next drive he led a five-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a 20-yard scoring strike to Matt Boyce. The Gusties QB completed all five passes on the drive, meaning he started the game with 13 straight completions when he hit Boyce for the touchdown.
On their next possession the Air Marshall went to work quickly. Matt Boyce caught a 25-yard pass that moved Gustavus Adolphus to the Auggies 35. From there the QB found Drew Frederickson for the touchdown, moving his string of successful completions to 15 in a row, and adding his second touchdown pass of the game. Hendricks proved how difficult he can be to defend, moving the ball 60 yards in just 20 seconds.
On their next possession the Gusties were finally stopped, and Hendricks saw his string end at 17 straight completions. An incomplete pass intended for Gabriel Boyce brought the sting to an end, and gave the Auggies a chance to mount a drive of their own. Starting from their own two-yard line that is what they did, moving the ball to the GAC 31, but after 17 plays and 8:11 eclipsed on the clock, Scott was sacked for a five yard loss, resulting in the ball being turned over on downs.
Hendricks took over with 40 seconds left and the ball at his own 36, but his first pass was picked-off by Denziel Anderson, setting Augsburg up for a final attempt to score before half-time. Scott was able to move the ball to the GAC 16 where Brandyn Oliver attempted a 33-yard field goal, which he nailed, and the score was 20-10 at half.
The second half began with the Gusties getting the ball. If the GAC quarterback was bothered by his interception it sure didn’t show. On the second play of the drive he hit a streaking George Buckner for 44 yards down to the Augsburg 17. DaiVon Poole carried the ball 14 yards to the three for another first down. On his next carry Poole was stopped for no gain, and then Hendricks was sacked for a 14-yard loss. That set up a third and goal from the 17, and it was time for the Gusties QB to hit one of his favorite targets. Gabriel Boyce. A perfect throw gave Boyce the opportunity grab the quick touchdown and put the Gusties up 27-10.
Their next possession began at their own 18. Nine plays later they were in the end zone again, this time on a Hendricks six-yard pass to Harrison Feldcamp. While the QB was lighting it up, his tailback was starting to feel the groove as well. He had a 20-yard reception on the drive, and carried the ball three times for 37 yards.
If Augsburg was going to have any chance they needed their star quarterback to step it up and that is what he did on their next possession. After completing a 28-yard pass to Nick Brundy, Jerise Washington had a 12-yard run for another first down. Scott then took the ball on a quarterback keeper and broke a few tackles on his way to a 42-yard touchdown gallop. The Auggies were finally in the end zone, although they were still down 34-17.
Next up it was the Air Marshall’s turn. If there is one thing Hendricks is an absolute ace at it is the art of responding. When his team gives up points he ends the euphoria for opponents by getting them right back, and this is what he did on the next drive, and he did it in short order. Hendricks hit Gabriel Boyce for 12-yard strike to begin the drive, then Poole burst off-tackle for 15 more. That set up a first and 10 at the Augsburg 49 where the QB hit Matt Boyce deep for the 49-yard touchdown. It was the longest pass play for the Gusties this season.
Scott knows a little about responding as well, and his response to the touchdown was to take his team on an 11-play, 76-yard drive that resulted in an 11-yard pass to Scott Bossard for the score. A two-point conversion pass by Scott was successful and it was 41-25.
The Gusties were stopped on their next drive, giving Scott and his offense back the ball. On a first and 10 play from the 26, he went deep to Sonnenfeld, who brought in the ball for a 74-yard strike which cut the deficit to 41-31. Could the Auggies rally to overtake the Gusties. No one becomes Air Marshall if they let that happen.
Hendricks came back onto the field 76 yards away from the end zone. Seven plays and 3:04 later Gabriel Boyce was pulling in a 49-yard touchdown strike to put the Gusties on top 48-31. The Air Marshall was masterful on the drive, completing five of six passes, all to the Boyce brothers.
GAC would get the ball right back when Scott was intercepted by Anthony Boyce, who returned the ball to the Augsburg 41. From there the Gusties “slowed down” their offense, needing seven plays and 3:18 of the clock to move 41 yards where Hendricks found Matt Boyce for the two-yard score.
For Hendricks it ended as an absolutely amazing day. He set several school records, including most touchdowns in a game (7), most yards in a game (504), as well as most completions in a game (33). He was truly unstoppable and with the record-setting day he now has 20 touchdowns through four games.
His receiving corps were the recipients of his big effort. The Boyce brothers were especially gracious in their acceptance of his throws to them. Matt had 12 catches for 178 yards and three scores. Gabriel had 11 grabs for 154 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Poole carried the ball 21 times for 101 yards and a rushing TD and also had four catches for 44 yards.
The other Boyce, linebacker Anthony, also had a big day for the team. In addition to his late interception, he also led the team in tackles with 11.
In a losing effort Scott had a huge day for Augsburg. He was 27-41 for 346 yards and three scores. He also ran 20 times for 94 more yards and a TD. Jerise Washington had 18 carries for 99 yards. Sonnenfeld was the big receiver on the day, making eight catches for 140 yards and two scores.
Next week the Gusties take their aerial show to Northfield to face the winless St. Olaf Oles. Augsburg is off next week, but on October 11 they head to St. Thomas to face the Tommies.
By Robert Pannier