One thing is absolutely sure about the Gustavus Adolphus offense this season: they are really good. After rolling up 44 points and 389 yards of offense there can be little doubt at this point. The Gusties sure taught the Crown College Storm that lesson Saturday afternoon in a 44-17 victory in the season opener for both teams.
GAC scored on both of their first two possessions to stake themselves to a 14-0 lead. On the first drive QB Mitch Hendricks and RB Luke Martinez were the story as they led the drive together. Martinez rushed four times in the possession for 22 yards, and Hendricks was a perfect 5-5 passing on the drive for 38 yards and touchdown. The point after attempt failed, but the Gusties had a 6-0 lead.
The next drive would have started deep in Storm territory thanks to a 52-yard punt return by Gabriel Boyce down to the Crown 16, however, personal foul call moved the ball back 39 yards, putting the ball at the GAC 45-yard line. From their Hendricks went to work. He was 3-3 on the drive, including pass completions of 23 and 28 yards, with the 28 yarder going to Matt Boyce for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead.
The Storm finally got on the board following a fumble recovery by Tim Blake at the Gusties 31. The drive looked like it was going to stall immediately as QB Brandon McCormi completed just one of his first three passes for three yards, but Crown went for it on fourth down and McCormi came up big, hitting Josh Edlund for a 14 yard gain and a first down. From there they turned to their running game, eventually getting to the 3-yard line, where McCormi hit Ben Olson for the touchdown, cutting the lead to 13-7.
The Gusties responded immediately, scoring on a 26-yard field goal by Thomas Schleusener to put Gustavus Adolphus on-top 16-7. The Gusties then began their next drive at the Crown 37, and Hendricks delivered immediately, throwing a 37-yarder to Boyce for the touchdown, and the rout was on.
The Gusties next possession would begin deep in Storm territory again after a 54-yard return by Nick Frandsen put the ball at the 26-yard line. Hendricks hit a swing pass to Martinez for 8 yards, and then hit Boyce again for the 18-yard touchdown. The two seemed to be playing pitch-n-catch all afternoon, and the Storm defense had no answer for the two.
The Storm would drive 45 yards before the end of the half and get a 37-yard field goal by Chad Anenson to cut the deficit to 30-10, but it was going to take a little divine intervention to turn this game around. That simply wasn’t coming however.
Hendricks continued his torrid performance taking the opening kick-off of the second half and driving the ball 68 yards on 8 plays for the score. The QB was 5-6 on the drive for 56 yards, which culminated in a 13-yard touchdown pass to the other Boyce, this time Gabriel, to make the score 37-10.
On Crown’s first possession of the second half they held the ball for 8:12, running 14 plays, but turned the ball over on downs at the Gustavus Adolphus 30. That put the ball back in Hendricks’ hands – big mistake.
It wasn’t the GAC QB that made them pay this time, however. Now it was Leeland Lauti the Gusties turned to hold onto the ball. He rushed eight times for 58 yards, and Hendricks capped off the drive with an 8-yard scramble for a touchdown, making it 44-10.
The Storm would add a touchdown late on a 2-yard run by Matt Michaud to give Crown 17 points, but it was way too little, too late. The game would end 44-17, giving the Gusties their first win of the season.
Hendricks was the star of the game, going 23-28 for 260 yards and five touchdown passes. He also scored a touchdown on the ground. Matt Boyce finished with 9 catches for 146 and 3 TDs and his brother had 6 catches for 66 yards and a TD.
It was a completely dominating performance on all sides of the ball. The Storm were held to 239 yards of total offense, and gave up a sack. RB Josh Edlund found very little running room on this day for Crown, and was held to 58 yards on 20 carries.
Gustavus Adolphus travels to Lake Forest next week for a 1:oo PM game time.
By Robert Pannier
Associate Senior Managing Editor
Senior Writer Covering the MIAC