Did you hear that the air show was in St. Peter on Saturday? No, the Blue Angel team was not there. No, there was not a show of World War II fighters demonstrating aerial tactics. Instead, QB Mitch Hendricks and his band of aces took to the field for Gustavus Adolphus, and put on a display that continues to light up the sky.
While the offense did have another spectacular day, it was the defense that made a statement that they are pretty darn good as well. In fact, while Hendricks and his cast of flying aces were moving the ball up and down the field, the Gusties defense was crushing the Knights offense. How dominate were they? The Knights finished with just 58 yards of offense. No, that is not a typo. 58!! They completed just four passes and had a net rushing total of 30 total yards. That is not just dominate; that is positively bone crushing.
Carleton had the ball seven times in the first half. They punted six times and the half ended on their seventh possession. They ran 31 plays and accumulated 36 yards. Three of their drives ended in negative yardage. This was not a bend but don’t break defense. This was “give their ball carrier nothing, and drop him every time he gets his mitts on the ball.”
In the second half it was much of the same. Six possessions, three punts, a fumble, a safety and the half ending a drive. This time they gained a total of 22 total yards for the half. The Knights were not able to mount any kind of sustainable drive, and their game-plan appeared to be one of hang on to the ball as long as possible. Scoring seemed almost secondary to ensuring that Air Marshall Hendricks didn’t have the ball.
So what was the offense doing while the defense was smothering the Knights offense? Just the usual. 397 yards through the air, 204 on the ground, 601 yards total. Seven touchdowns, four of those on passes from Hendricks. Just a typical day at the office for the high-flying Gusties.
Gustavus Adolphus got on the board in each of the first four possessions of the game. The Gusties took the opening kick-off, and drove 62-yards in four plays where Hendricks hit Jordan Sorenson for a 15-yard touchdown pass. On their next drive it was six-plays and 53-yards, where Hendricks completed a 30-yard strike to Matt Boyce for the 14-0 lead.
Moving quickly and making plays was the mantra of the Gusties offense, and it continued on their next two possessions. Their third possession of the game moved the ball 92-yards on just three plays for the score. On a first and ten play from their own 39, Hendricks got flushed from the pocket, broke a tackle and then raced 61 yards to the end zone for the score. The young man was proving that when needed he can make a play with his feet as well. One possession later Hendricks went back to his more conventional method of scoring, hitting DaiVon Poole for a 49-yard pass play and a 28-0 lead. The score capped off a six-play, 74-yard drive, and was the third time in two games that Hendricks had a 49-yard touchdown pass.
A fumble and a turnover on downs held the Gusties off the board on their next two possessions, but with 38 seconds left in the first-half they got the ball at the Hamline 47. Thirty-eight seconds is like an hour to the GAC offense, and they proved this to be true. Hendricks first pass fell incomplete, but he then hit Matt Boyce in stride for a 47-yard strike and the 35-0 lead.
In the second-half, GAC rode their defense to the finish. Chris Madden was dropped by Nick Frandsen for a five-yard loss that resulted in a safety on the Knights first possession of the half. Late in the third quarter Poole added a two-yard run for a score that increased the lead to 43-0. In the fourth quarter Sam Lundberg scored from four-yards out to cap off the scoring for the game. 50-0 was the final, and the score accurately depicted how dominant Gustavus Adolphus was on this day.
Hendricks finished 24-28 for 383 yards and four scores. The four touchdown strikes gives him 24 for the year already, which is 14 ahead of the next best quarterback. The Boyce brothers each caught nine passes, with Matt gaining 166 yards and two scores, and Gabriel adding 107.
On defense Barret Panning had two sacks, and the Gusties defense made 14 tackles for losses, plus they added six sacks. It was truly a showing for the ages.
Next week the Gusties travel to winless St. Olaf to face the Oles. Carleton travels to Concordia to face the 4-1 Cobbers.
By Robert Pannier