It didn’t seem so long ago when Gustavus Adolphus had the Gusties Gunslinger, Mitch Hendrix, leading the team as the most prolific offense in MIAC history. Saturday afternoon it looked like the Gustavus airshow was back in town, thanks to Michael Veldman who threw for 392-yards and 4-touchdowns in the 51-7 victory over the Hamline University Pipers. The Gustavus Adolphus defense recorded five sacks and held Hamline quarterback Justice Spriggs to 94 yards in the win.
Hamline received the opening kickoff, but was forced to punt after five plays. Gustavus Adolphus began their first drive at their own 42, and took just 1:41 to take the lead. On the first two plays of the drive they were unable to move the ball, but Michael Veldman kept the drive alive with a 10-yard completion. Following an 11-yard completion to Cam Hufendick, Josh Kirk burst through the line and raced 37-yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0.
On their next possession, the Gusties would add a field goal. The defense had forced a three and out, giving GAC the ball at their own 40. They were able to get to the Hamline seven where the drive stalled. Brendan Boche drilled a 24-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
Into the second quarter the game would go with Gustavus leading by 10, but Hamline would cut that deficit to three. After the defense stuffed a fourth and 4 at the Pipers 40 to force a turnover on downs, QB Justice Spriggs rushed for eight-yards before hitting Harrison Jones for 38-yards and the first down to the Gustavus Adolphus 14. On the next play, Spriggs connected with Nick Barber for the touchdown to make it 10-7.
The Gusties responded right away. After Rafael Soriano rushed for seven-yards on the first play of the drive, Veldman found Brayton Finch going down the seam. He hit Finch in stride who outran the defender for the 81-yard touchdown to extend the lead back to 10.
About halfway through the second quarter, the lead became 17. Starting from their own 38, Veldman completed five of seven passes on the drive, including four in a row, with the last one going to Johnson for 11-yards and the score.
Just before heading in for the half, Gustavus would get on the scoreboard again. There was just 1:04 left until the break and the Gusties were at their own 34. Veldman completed a pass to Johnson for 15-yards that put the ball just a yard short of midfield. Two plays later, GAC was faced with a third and 8. The Gusties QB made a pass to Brice Panning who had just enough yardage for the first down. Back-to-back completions to Johnson moved the ball to the Hamline 21 with just a few seconds left. Veldman then hit Josh Kirk in the end zone for the score, completing the 8-play, 66-yard drive.
The Gustavus Adolphus Gusties were dominating this game and it would not get any better in the second half for Hamline. On their second possession following the break, Veldman led his team on a 62-yard drive that took just six-plays before they would score again. On the third play of the drive, Rafael Soriano-Campos ran for 12 yards to the Hamline 26. Veldman then connected with Kirk for 34 before he was tackled at the two. On the next play, Soriano-Campos burst into the end zone to make it 37-7.
On their next possession, the Gusties would reach the end zone again. GAC moved 62-yards in seven-plays and scored when Veldman hit Johnson for a 16-yard score. That made it 44-7.
Gustavus added one more touchdown in the fourth quarter. With Gavyn Walsh on for Veldman, he found Greg Knaack for a 17-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 44. It was an impressive drive set up by Nathan Schroepfer who had runs of 16-, 12-, and 17-yards on consecutive plays to move the ball to the Hamline 15. The score made it 51-7 which would be the final.
The Gustavus Adolphus offense put up 566 total yards, including 429 through the air. Michael Veldman was 26-42 for 392-yards and 4-touchdowns. Brayton Finch made 5-receptions for 143-yards and a score. Hunter Johnson had 11-catches for an even 100-yards and 2-TDs. The Gusties defense allowed a total of 196-yards to Hamline. Seven different players had at least a half-sack.
Hamline will host Carleton College next Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 PM.
By Robert Pannier