It was punch-counter-punch, ebb and flow, action and reaction Saturday night in St. Paul as the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties took big leads only to see the Hamline Pipers rally to get right back into the game. The last of those rallies almost tied the score, but a gutsy call on third and 9 clinched it, giving the Gusties the 42-35 victory.
With nearly half of a minute left in the first quarter this one looked like it would be a blow out. On the Gusties first possession, quarterback Mitch Hendricks and running back DaiVon Poole mounted Gustavus Adolphus 72-yards in nine-plays for the score. Hendricks completed all four of his passes, and Poole rushed for 41-yards on five carries, including a five-yard burst into the end zone that made it 7-0.
The Gusties would begin their next drive at their own four-yard-line after Kyle Johnson’s punt went 53-yards. A long field is not problem for the Gusties Gunslinger. Hendricks completed a 21-yard pass to Jake Douglass and then a 43-yarder to Matt Boyce to move into Hamline territory. On the 12th play of the drive Poole scored from six-yards out to make it 14-0.
This time the Pipers responded as Johnson led a quick four-play drive that went 75-yards before Hamline scored. The sophomore quarterback completed passes of 31-yards and 21-yards to Nick Kampa, and then found Kampa one more time, this time for 32-yards and the score.
Hendricks knows how to respond as well, and he took his team on an equally impressive seven-play, 74-yard drive for a touchdown that made it 21-7. It was Hendricks and Poole featured on the drive, as Poole rushed three times for 22-yards, and Hendricks completed four passes for 52-yards. His perfect 26-yard strike to Matt Boyce resulted in the touchdown.
Hamline was forced to punt on their drive, setting up the Gusties with great field position at the Hamline 45-yard-line. On second and 9 Hendricks found Harrison Feldkamp for 17-yards and then Poole took the ball on a sweep and went the remaining 27 for a touchdown to make it 28-7.
This game had the absolute makings of a blowout, and it looked like the Pipers had no answers for the Gusties, but Hamline showed a great deal of moxie, led by their defense. Darrian Smith’s intercepted Hendricks at the GAC 15, and he raced to the one-yard-line before being tackled. Austin Duncan scored three plays later to make it 28-14.
The Hamline defense forced a three-and-out on the Gusties next possession, and Johnson then led his team on an 11-play drive just before the half ended that resulted in another Duncan touchdown, this time from six-yards out. Johnson and Duncan starred in the drive, as the sophomore QB had two big pass completions, both to Deon Bishop.
It was 28-21 heading into half-time, but clearly the ebb of the Gusties had been met by the Pipers flow. Hamline had all the momentum and they were getting the ball to start the second half, but the Gustavus Adolphus defense held firm right off, as Nick Frandsen intercepted Johnson at the GAC 23 and returned it 40-yards to the Hamline 37. Three plays later Karim Ortiz burst outside and ran 28-yards for the score to make it 35-21.
Two possessions later Hendricks decided it was time for him to prove he could move the ball on the ground as well. The Pipers had gone for it on fourth and 7 from their own 40, but Josh Curtis sacked Johnson for a loss of 10, giving his team the ball at the Hamline 30. Five plays later the Gusties had moved the ball to the Hamline five where, on first and goal, Hendricks kept the ball and scored to put his team back on top by 21.
The Pipers looked all but dead late in the fourth quarter, but back-to-back special teams plays turned the tide in the game. The first occurred when Casey Decker’s punt was blocked by Jack Swanberg at the GAC 30. Zach Schwalbach picked up the loose ball and raced 25-yards for the score, and just like that the lead was just 14.
The Pipers went for the on-side kick and once again it was Swanberg who came up big, recovering the ball to give Hamline a shot to make this a seven-point game. Johnson quickly moved his team down the field to the Gusties three, but the drive looked like it may stall when a taunting call cost the Pipers 15-yards, moving the ball back to the 18. The game came down to a fourth and 12 play, and Johnson came up huge, hitting Naji El-Araby on the post pattern in the end zone for the touchdown to make it a seven-point game.
Again the Pipers went for the onside kick, but they were not successful. However, there was 2:34 left in the game and home team had two timeouts left. The Pipers defense held the Gusties to just one-yard on the first two plays, setting up a third and 9. Both teams called a timeout before the play adding to the tension. When the ball was snapped the Gustavus Adolphus coaches went big, sending Matt Boyce deep down the right side. Hendricks found him for a 32-yard gain to lock down the game and the Gusties won 42-35.
Gustavus Adolphus finished with 520 total yards of offense. Hendricks was 31-44 for 307 yards and a touchdown. Poole had 15 carries for 107-yards and 3 scores, and Ortiz had 67-yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Matt Boyce had 6-catches for 118 yards and the TD. Brother Gabe had 9-catches for 70-yards.
For the Pipers Johnson was 16-26 for 239-yards and 2 TDs. Duncan had 23-carries for 82-yards, and Nick Kampa had 8-catches for 143-yards and a TD.
Darrian Smith led the Hamline defense on the day. He had 12-tackles and an interception. Terry Pergues had 11-tackles.
The Gusties defense was led by Anders Raarup and Mason Kaliszewski who each had 7-tackles. The Gustavus Adolphus defense recorded three sacks, led by Isaac Kotila who had 1.5.
By Robert Pannier