In a battle of early season undefeated teams, the Gusties of Gustavus Adolphus proved to be very ungracious hosts, as they dominated the Hamline Pipers on their way to a 48-19 victory. GAC jumped out to a 21-0 lead before finally allowing a Pipers TD, and never looked back, as their offense rolled up an incredible 603 yards and a 7.4 yards per play average.
While the Gusties have a very complete offense, there is one thing that is clearly true – QB Mitch Hendricks is really good. Hendricks entered the game first in the MIAC with 637 yards passing, nine touchdowns and a 79.7 percent completion rate. He would finish the game adding huge numbers to those stats.
The Pipers received the opening kick-off and were forced to punt after a three-n-out series. That brought Hendricks onto the field to start the drive at his own 20. From there he completed four of five passes for 70 yards, including a 40-yard strike to Gabriel Boyce which put the ball at the Hamline one yard line. Two plays later David Cliett drove the ball home for a 7-0 lead.
The Gusties drove 51 yards on their next possession, but the drive stalled. Thomas Schleusener attempted a 44 yarder, but the kick sailed wide left and the score remained 7-0.
After being stopped on that drive by the missed field goal, the Gusties were not to be denied on their next two possessions. Hendricks 35-yard touchdown strike to Matt Boyce made the score 14-0, and after Jake Forcier intercepted Tim Bona’s pass and returned it to the Hamline 21, Luke Martinez scored from 11 yards out to make it 21-0.
On the Pipers sixth drive of the game they finally got on the board and in quick fashion. Bona completed three of five passes to move the ball to the GAC 21. From there star running back Austin Duncan took the ball the rest of the way, closing the drive with a 12-yard dash to the end zone.
Two possessions later Hendricks would respond, and it would be another hook-up to his favorite target, Matt Boyce, which capped off the drive. The Gusties QB completed two quick passes to Matt’s brother Gabriel early in the drive, before finally hitting the other Boyce for the 15-yard score.
Hamline was amped to get back into the game and it was Bona who would lead the team on a quick-strike four play, 69-yard drive. He QB completed his last four passes for 49 yards, and hit Hoyfal Adam on an 18-yard pass play for the touchdown. The extra-point was missed but the Pipes had made it a two-score game at 28-13.
At that point Hendricks did what he does best – respond. His team got the ball with just one minute left in the half at their own 31. Hendricks first pass went for a 27-yard gain to Gabriel Boyce. A personal foul call gave the Gusties 15 more yards, and then Hendricks looked to the other Boyce for a 12-yard catch and another first down. The QB then found a streaking DalVon Poole for a 15-yard touchdown catch and, in 27 seconds, GAC had answered the touchdown of the Pipers. The extra-point attempt was missed and the two teams headed into halftime with GAC leading 34-13.
To start out the second-half both teams punted on their opening drive, and then there was three successive touchdowns scored. The first was a methodical 15-play, 89-yard drive by the Gusties that ate up 6:03 on the clock. Gustavus Adolphus had seven running plays as they moved down the field, and Leeland Lauti closed it out with a three yard scamper for a 41-13 lead.
Hamline came right back as Bona’s arm and Duncan’s legs moved the ball 53 yards in six plays. Duncan finished the drive with a nine yard touchdown run, but the two-point conversion failed and it was 41-19.
Not to be outdone, Hendricks and the Gusties responded again. This time the team moved the ball 64 yards in six plays, which took 2:26 off of the clock. Hendricks had a huge 40-yard bomb to Matt Boyce in the drive and closed it out with a 1-yard bullet to Jake Douglass to end the scoring at 48-19.
Hamline would get the ball two more times, and mount long drives, but both would end in a turnover on downs. Combined, the two drives were 26 plays for nearly 10 minutes, but needing touchdowns the Pipers had to go for it on fourth down, and failed both times. The Gusties defense was happy to bend, but would not break.
On the day the home team’s defense gave up 338 yards, including 222 in the air, but with Hamline trailing early, the defense was content to give up some yards as long as the Pipers did not get back into the game. They didn’t.
The GAC offense was a machine on this afternoon. Hendricks finished 31-43 for 443 yards and four TDs. He now leads the league with 1080 yards passing in just three games, and has 13 touchdown completions. These are more like video game numbers than real offensive stats, but the quarterback has proven he can deliver for real.
On the ground Martinez led the Gusties with 76 yards on nine carries. He also had a touchdown, and finished with a yards per carry average of 8.4. Pipers star tailback Austin Duncan finished with 99 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns, giving him four on the season.
On the receiving end, the Boyce brothers were the stars of the show. Matt finished with eight catches for 156 yards and two scores. Gabriel has 10 catches for 143 yards. It surely must have been a happy dinner table for the family that night.
The aerial show that the Gusties are putting on this season is absolutely incredible. They have scored at least 40 points in every game this year, and now have 134 total points scored on the season. Their defense has proved to be no slouch either allowing just 45 points through three contests.
Next week, Gustavus Adolphus travels to Augsburg College (2-1). The Pipers have a week off to regroup before traveling to St. John’s to face the 2-1 Johnnies.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Writer Covering the MIAC