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ISSUE 118 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/15/2004

Oles chew up Knights: football earns homecoming victory in Cereal Bowl

By Ryan Maus
Staff Writer

Friday, October 15, 2004

The smell of Malt-O-Meal wasn't the only thing in the air at Saturday's second annual Cereal Bowl matchup between the St. Olaf football team and their cross-town rivals from Carleton. An electric crowd of over 6,000 fans supplied a charged atmosphere as well, which was enough to spur the Oles to a 34-21 Homecoming win.

St. Olaf got the scoring started early and never looked back. John Davis '05 turned in a spectacular play with 8:37 remaining in the first quarter, blocking a punt by the Knights' Luke Muellerleile deep in Carleton territory. The Oles recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

John Davis and Preston [St. John] '08 have really been doing a good job on punts this year, and they finally got one, head coach Chris Meidt said. We saw something on film and felt this was a weakness we could exploit.

The Oles capitalized on that momentum to record touchdowns on their next four possessions. Marc Olson '07 capped a nine play, 63-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown scamper late in the first quarter, paving the way for three second quarter Ole scores.

St. Olaf quarterback Jason Wilsey '06 carried the Ole offense in the second quarter, essentially putting the game out of reach for the hapless Knights. Wilsey, who completed 19 of 33 passes for 296 yards on the day, accounted for 78 of 80 yards on a four-play touchdown drive early in the second quarter. First-year Jay Higgins' two-yard touchdown run put the Oles ahead 20-0.

I was extremely pleased with Jason's performance, Meidt said after the game. He distributed the ball very well [four different Oles caught three or more passes] and looked sharp in the pocket. There's no doubt he's on his way to becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.

After a Carleton touchdown made the score 20-7, Olson pounded out another two-yard touchdown run. Olson's second score of the day made it 27-7. St. Olaf also executed an impressive nine-play 76-yard drive in the waning moments of the first half, culminating with sophomore Nick Rost's five-yard touchdown catch. It was the last time the Oles would score, but a rejuvenated St. Olaf defense would hold firm in the second half, holding the Knights to just one late fourth quarter touchdown.

When you get ahead by so many points [the Oles led 34-7 at the end of the first half] you can approach it one of two ways: you can either go after them or hang back, Meidt said. Our defense made a few mistakes in the second half, but overall I thought we did a very good job of going right at them.

Wilsey also connected on a 47-yard pass to Horace Gant '08 late in the fourth quarter to preserve the 34-21 Ole victory. The win was also bittersweet for the Oles: Bobby Andrade '07, St. Olaf's leading rusher a year ago, was forced to leave the game with two serious leg injuries. He will be out four to six months.

With the win, the Oles improved their overall record to 4-2 and 3-2 in the MIAC. The Oles will take on Gustavus in St. Peter Saturday, whom they defeated 41-27 a year ago. The game carries extra significance for the St. Olaf coaching staff.

Saturday's game is especially important for us from a recruiting standpoint, Meidt said. We recruit a lot of the same kids every year, so a win would definitely help our program. Next to Carleton, this is probably our biggest game of the year.

Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.

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