The Oles jumped out to an early lead when quarterback Matt Penz 08 connected with receiver Horace Gant 08 for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Ben Roff 08 added a rushing touchdown, elevating the Oles to a 14-0 lead. The Gusties put their first points on the scoreboard with a touchdown midway through the second quarter, but the Oles responded when Ryan St. John 09 blocked a punt which Steven Wood 07 returned for a touchdown at the end of the half.
The Oles quickly established themselves offensively in the second half with a Penz touchdown pass to Andrew Schmiesing 08 and another rushing touchdown by Ben Roff 08. Gustavus sought to rally with a touchdown pass late in the game, but Penz connected with runningback Evan Endsley 09 to seal the Ole victory.
Penz directed a St. Olaf offense that gained 419 yards on the game. Penz threw for 303 of those yards, completing 19 passes on 32 attempts including three touchdown strikes. Gant led Ole receivers with 133 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches. Endsley caught five passes out of the backfield for 73 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback John Haberman 10 led the Ole rushing attack with 62 yards on five carries. Bobby Andrade 07 rushed seven times for 27 yards, while Ben Roff 08 scored two rushing touchdowns.
Captain James Bechdol 08 led the Oles on defense with 6.5 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Linebacker Charlie Mylrea 09 added 6.5 tackles and a sack of his own. Chris Feehan 07 and Peter St. Lawrence 07 both intercepted passes. Defensive back Deontae Hutchins 08 shut down Gustie receivers, earning five tackles on the game.
A perfect 5-0, the Oles are now tied with St. Johns for the conference lead. The Oles and the Johnnies are currently the only undefeated MIAC teams, but that will change when the two behemoths collide this Saturday at Manitou Field. The winner of the game will hold the MIAC lead outright and, though it is still too early to predict, will have a major advantage in pursuing the MIAC title.
In addition to the MIAC title implications, the Oles are motivated in particular by the 63-9 loss they suffered to the Johnnies in a much-hyped game in Collegeville last season. The defeat was an aberration for the 2005 St. Olaf team, which was one of the best Ole football squads in almost 30 years.
Are we ready? said Hutchins. This team has been ready since that 63-9 loss we suffered last year. This team is more prepared than I've ever seen. We're most definitely ready for this year's showdown. We're eating, sleeping and breathing Johnny juice.
Already perfect through their first five games, the Oles are clearly prepared to take on the defending MIAC champions. The Oles currently boast the best offense in the MIAC, scoring an average 41 points per game and earning an average of 438 yards per game thus far.
Defensively, the Oles have allowed an average of only 13 points per game, and rank third in the MIAC in defensive pass efficiency, despite the fact that opponents have attempted twice as many passes against the Ole secondary as have been attempted against any other MIAC offense.
The Oles also rank second in red zone defense: Their opponents score less than half of the time they enter the red zone.
While these statistics should give Ole fans hope (and Johnny fans fright), the Oles are not counting on an easy game. Far from it: the Oles are taking nothing for granted, preparing for a tough game against a tough opponent.
It's going to be a 60-minute war and the Oles are playing full-throttle, said Hutchins. The Johnnies better bring their A game, because theyre going to need it.
The Oles meet St. Johns this Saturday at Manitou Field at 1 p.m.