Konde Second Half Surge Propels Gusties over Pipers, 33-21
Rohee Konde rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns as Gustavus Adolphus College put up 19 points in the second half on their way to a 33-21 victory over Hamline University. The score was tied at seven coming out of the first quarter, but the Gusties responded by scoring 26 of the next 33 point. GAC put up 561 total yards of offense, including 403 on the ground.
Hamline got off to a great start, taking the opening kickoff and moving 63 yards to take a 7-0 lead. Back-to-back completions by quarterback Connor Leavens got the drive started, moving the ball to the Gusties 21. After a pass interference call moved the ball to the GAC nine, Terrell Jones plunged into the end zone two plays later to give Hamline a 7-0 lead.
Gustavus Adolphus was forced to punt on their first possession, but found the end zone on their second. This was an impressive drive that saw the team start from there 5-yard line, needing just five plays before tying the score. After quarterback Jake Breitbach completed back-to-back passes to move the ball to the 34, the Gusties quarterback was flushed out of the pocket, finding open space before racing 66 yards for a touchdown.
Gustavus Adolphus scored the only points of the second quarter, moving 74 yards in 12 plays before taking a 14-7 lead. Breitbach led the drive early on, carrying the ball three times for 16 yards and completing an 8 yard pass to Matthew Kipper. Konde took over from there, carrying the ball on four of the next five plays, including scoring from 4 yards out for his first touchdown of the day.
The Gusties took the opening kick of the second half and quickly marched down the field to extend their lead to 13. Konde began the drive with a 12-yard carry, followed up by a 10-yard gain. After Breitbach rushed for 14 yards, Konde burst outside and raced 38 yards for his second score of the contest, making this a 20-7 lead for Gustavus Adolphus.
The Pipers responded, as Leavens led the team down the field to pull Hamline within six. The driver looked like it would stall early on when the team faced third and 8 at their own 22, but a pass interference call gave Hamline new life. On third and five, the Pipers quarterback found Charlie Wilson for a 7-yard g game ame. The team would convert one more third-down when Jones rushed for 2 yards to move the ball to the 40 yard line. On the next play, Leavens found Wilson streaking over the middle for a 40-yard touchdown to make it a 20-14 game.
Gustavus Adolphus extended their lead to nine thanks to a 29-yard field goal by Andrew Abeggien. The Gusties got the ball right back when Tristan Thomas took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 52 yards to the Gustavus Adolphus 48. However, Peyton Churchward stripped the ball which was recovered by William Hawkins. Six plays later Konde scored from 4 yards out to give GAC a 30-14 lead.
Things had quickly turned against the Pipers, as they found themselves trailing by 16 heading into the fourth quarter. The Gusties extended that lead to 19 when Abeggien connected on a 36-yard field goal and this game looked like it was all but over.
However, the Pipers responded with a 10 play, 76-yard drive that pulled them back within 12. Leavens got the drive moving early on, completing a 13-yard pass to Alec Ralph on third and 8 that gave the team a first down. A roughing the passer penalty on the play gave Hamline 15 additional yards, moving the ball to the GAC 46. Once again, it looked like the drive would stall when Hamline was faced with a fourth and 7, but Leavens found Wilson for 11 yards and another first down. A late hit on the play moved the ball 15 yards further down to the GAC 17. Three plays later, Ralph completed a 2-yard pass to Wilson for the touchdown to cut the deficit to 33-21.
The Hamline defense came up big on the next possession for the Gusties, as Kaden Smith stripped Konde of the ball at the Hamline 31. Adrian Cracolici recovered the ball with 2:16 left in the contest. The Pipers moved down the field, looking to cut the deficit to a single score. On fourth and 8 at the GAC 38, Leavens found Ralph out in the flat. He attempted to evade the defender, but was tackled 4 yards short of the first down. That turned the ball over on downs and Gustavus Adolphus would run out the clock to earn the 33-21 victory.
Leavens finished 15 of 28 for 158 yards and a touchdown. Ralph completed six of eight passes for 36 yards and a touchdown, and also gained 39 yards on 11 carries. Wilson had six catches for 81 yards and two scores. The Hamline defense was led by Zach Griebel and Kaden Smith, who each had nine tackles.
Konde had a huge day for Gustavus Adolphus, carrying the ball 26 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns. Breitbach had a big day as well, completing 10 of 20 passes for 158 yards, and adding 150 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 14 carries. Isaak Knutson led the Gusties with 10 tackles and added a sack.
The Pipers (3-3) look to get back into the win column when they travel down I-94 to take on Augsburg (3-3) next Saturday. The Auggies have won three of their last four games. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier