Note to Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) teams this season; Mitch Hendricks is back for Gustavus Adolphus and maybe better than ever. That fact was on display Saturday night were Hendricks threw for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns in a little over a half of work in leading the Gusties to a 56-13 victory over the Crown College Storm.
The game did not get off to a quick start for the Gusties Gunslinger. Hendricks was hit as he threw his first pass and the game and that caused the ball to flutter into the arms of the Storm’s Chris Strange, who returned the ball to the Gustavus 48-yard line. The defense stiffed, however, forcing a three and out.
The ensuing punt backed GAC to their own 9-yard-line, but down, distance, and field position mean nothing to the Gunslinger or his offense. Luke Martinez burst to the right on the first play of the drive and raced 40-yards before being tackled. Hendricks then completed 4 of 5 passes, the last of which put the ball at the Crown 11-yard-line. From there Leeland Lauti went right on a sweep and scampered into the end zone to give his team a 7-0 lead.
On their next possession the Gusties started at their own 32. Lauti’s 25-yard run moved them to the Crown 38, and Hendricks moved them to the 4-yard-line with a perfect strike to receiver Matt Boyce for 34-yards. Hendricks next pass was to brother Gabe Boyce for 4-yards and the touchdown, and Gustavus Adolphus was rolling.
The next possession was vintage GAC football. The defense continued to force the Storm to punt, and so Gustavus Adolphus began at their own 28. A false start penalty moved them back five more yards, setting up a first and 15. Reason to be concerned? Not for the Gusties Gunslinger. He simply faded back to pass to found Matt Boyce to his left about 40-yards down the field. Boyce made the catch and then outran three defenders on his way for the 77-yard score.
The next possession saw one of most impressive catches a person is going to make. Starting from their own 34, the Gusties moved to their own 47 in two plays, but a holding call on first and 10 backed them up 10 yards. Two plays later they were at third and 9. Instead of looking for the first, Hendricks went up top to George Buchner down the seam. The defender made a nice play to tip the ball and it looked like it would fall incomplete, but Buchner showed incredible poise and concentration to stay focused on the ball and reeled it in, running the remaining nine yards for the score. That made it 28-0 and it was still the first quarter.
DaiVon Poole’s four yard run for a touchdown was the first play of the second quarter. That made it 35-0 and Hendricks was completely in control. It seemed that shutting him down was not going to happen this night, and for the most part it did not.
Following the Poole score, the Storm got a touchdown of their own. Crown College quarterback Brandon McCormick led Crown on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 2-yard pass from McCormick to Trey Peace on fourth and goal. McCormick made two huge pass plays on the drive, hitting Matt Michaud for 23 yards on third and 7, and then passing to Ben Olson for 34-yards one play later.
While down by 28, it should be noted that this game had the earmarks of a lot closer contest. They say baseball is a game of inches, well this was a game of about 18 of them. Early on McCormick had receivers that had gained a step on their defender but the ball was about 18 inches away from being a huge reception. The Storm’s QB played really well, and was looking to prove that he was up to the task of battling the Gusties quarterback. For the game McCormick finished 16-31 for 177 yards and a touchdown. He also had 12 yards on the ground.
That was a very solid performance, but Hendricks proves that if you just bring solid, you are going to fall behind early and often. With the score 35-7 he proved why that statement is true. Hendricks led a 10-play, 82-yard drive that ended with another touchdown pass to Matt Boyce, this time for 20-yards to make it 42-7.
With 2:09 left in the half, Poole would score again to extend the lead to 42. On the drive, the Gusties QB’s 46-yard pass to Matt Boyce put the ball at the two. From there, Poole drove it home to make it 49-7. That would be the half-time score.
Hendricks would play just one possession in the second half before his evening was done. It was a remarkable performance that saw him go 25-32 for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Each team would add one more score before the game was over. Josh Edlund’s four-yard touchdown run capped off a seven-play, 65-yard drive for Crown College. Senior Sam Lundberg took over for Hendricks and scored from one-yard out to make it 56-13, the final score of the game.
Overall Gustavus Adolphus put up 683 yards of total offense. As great of a day as the Gusties passing attack was having, the ground game was equally as formidable, gaining 263 yards. Lauti had 101-yards on 10-carries and scored a touchdown. Poole had 57-yards and 2 touchdowns on 11-carries. Gabe Boyce led the team in receptions with 9 for 71 yards and a TD. Twin brother Matt had 8 catches for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Edlund led the Storm in rushing yards with 59 and he had a touchdown. The leading receiver for Crown College was Peace who had 6 catches for 62-yards and a TD.
By Robert Pannier