You will have to excuse opponents of the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties if they are a little bitter this morning. If it wasn’t bad enough that the team had a quarterback putting up video game numbers, two of the top receivers in the conference, if not the country, and two running backs that could break a long one on any play, now they showcase their tight end as another weapon in the Gusties arsenal. Jake Douglas caught nine passes from Mitch Hendricks on Saturday afternoon for 172-yards and 3 touchdowns, as Gustavus Adolphus downed St. Olaf 58-34. Ya, there is reason to be bitter.
The first quarter was an exciting back-and-forth affair. The Oles took the opening kickoff and marched 75-yards before getting a four-yard touchdown run from J.J. Strnad to make it 7-0. Nate Penz was especially tough on the drive, completing five of his six passes for 45-yards, including completing his last three attempts.
For the first time this season the Gusties were trailing in a game, and so it was time for the offensive to deliver. DaiVon Poole led the drive, rushing three times for 27-yards, including a four-yard scamper to tie the game. The seven-play drive moved 77-yards in just 2:02.
On the Gusties next possession Douglass was hit after making an 11-yard reception and fumbled. St. Olaf recovered at their own 22, and made the most of the opportunity. Strnad carried the ball three times on the drive and made a 22-yard reception as well. His 26-yard carry moved the ball to the GAC 29-yardline, and he scored on another 26-yard run to make it 14-7 Oles.
Back came the Gusties. Going 43-yards in eight plays, Karim Ortiz finished off the drive with a one-yard burst to make it 14-14.
This had all the makings of a shootout, but the GAC defense stiffened, forcing three punts in the second quarter. Meanwhile the Gusties offense was firing on all cylinders.
After the Oles punted a little over a minute into the second quarter, Hendricks led the offense on a nine-play, 53-yard drive. The senior QB completed a 41-yard pass to Matt Boyce that put the ball at the Oles two-yardline. A holding call moved the ball back 10-yards, and three plays later Hendricks found Hunter Johnson for the 4-yard touchdown.
On the Oles next possession, the defense came up big again, forcing a punt after three plays. The snap to the punter went over his head and out of the end zone for the safety and the Gusties extended their lead to 23-14.
Following the free kick, the ball was back in the hands of Hendricks and he would lead his team for another score. Hendricks found Matt Boyce for 32-yards on a third and 4 play, and completed the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to his tight end.
St. Olaf punted on their next drive as well, this time downing the ball at the GAC one-yardline. To most teams this would be an issue, but to the Gusties Gunslinger and his posse it’s just another spot on the field. Hendricks completed four straight passes to get the team out of the shadow of their own goalpost, moving to their own 48. Methodically they went 99-yards in 14-plays before Hendricks passed to Poole for the seven-yard touchdown to make it 37-14 heading into the half.
The third quarter proved to be much like the first. The Gusties received the ball to start the second half and added another touchdown to extend their lead. Poole scored from six-yards out, and Douglass had three catches on the drive for 60-yards.
St. Olaf punted on their next possession, giving the Gusties offense back the ball. Hendricks made short work of this drive, finding his tight end for 54-yards and the touchdown on the third play of the drive. That increased the lead to 37-points and this game looked like it was clearly over.
However, the Oles weren’t done by any stretch of the imagination. Penz led his team on an eight-play, 61-yard drive that led to a Penz seven-yard run for a touchdown. The St. Olaf QB had two big pass completions and rushed four times on the drive.
On the next possession for Gustavus Adolphus, the team moved the ball on the ground looking to eat up some of the clock. Jamis Beulke got the drive rolling when he returned the kickoff 44-yards to the St. Olaf 44. The Gusties then rushed seven out of eight plays, moving the ball to the Oles two. Hendricks then passed to Douglass for the touchdown to extend the lead back to 37.
Penz brought his team right back. In 1:48, the Oles QB moved his team 63-yards in six-plays. He completed all five of his pass attempts, including a 16-yarder to Troy Peterson for the touchdown.
In the fourth quarter St. Olaf would add one more touchdown. Penz passed to Peterson again, this time for 12-yards for the score. The extra-point was no good, making the score 58-34 which is how it would end.
Gustavus Adolphus put up 575-yards of total offense, including 402 through the air. Hendricks was incredible, going 23-35 for 383-yards and 5 TDs. Poole rushed for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19-carries. Besides the big day by Douglass, Matt Boyce had 3-catches for 82-yards and brother Gabe had 4-catches for 67-yards.
Penz was 24-37 for 241-yards and 3 touchdown passes. Strnad had 20-carries for 102-yards and the 2 scores. Peterson caught 6 balls for 59-yards and 2 touchdowns.
By Robert Pannier