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ISSUE 121 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/28/2007

Football remains unbeaten

By Eric Monek Anderson
Sports Editor

Friday, September 28, 2007

A 21-0 first quarter lead paced the St. Olaf football team to an easy 70-31 win at Augsburg College last Saturday. The offense scored touchdowns on 10 of 14 drives to bump St. Olaf's league-leading scoring average to 49.25 points per game.

Quarterback Matt Penz '08 led the charge with 411 yards passing and five touchdowns. He found Horace Gant '08 for three touchdowns and 149 yards, while Andrew Schmiesing '08 grabbed another touchdown and gained 141 yards receiving.

"Those three (Penz, Gant, Schmiesing) have been playing together for four years now," head coach Chris Meidt said. "They have such great timing."

Timing, experience and athleticism have proven a winning combination for the unbeaten Oles.

The entire offense was dominant, running up 675 yards of total offense and out-rushing Augsburg 250 yards to -4 yards. Granted, St. Olaf's early lead allowed them to fully utilize their plethora of running backs, while Augsburg played catch-up through the air attack.

Ole backs Evan Endsley '09 and Jay Higgins '08 each contributed two touchdowns, while Ben Roff '08 added two more scores on short plunges, giving him five touchdowns in the last two weeks.

The firepower relegated standout kicker/punter Paul Fortman '08 almost exclusively to kickoff and extra point duty, as he smashed 11 kickoffs and kicked 10 extra points with only one punt.

"The offense really executed well," Meidt said. "They gave the defense no time to catch their breath. The kids are playing really fast right now. They know their jobs and the plays really well."

Though the defense offered up 31 points and allowed Augsburg to close the 21 point gap to 21-14 in the second quarter, Meidt was not discouraged. He attributed some of Augsburg quarterback Jordan Berg's 388 passing yards and four touchdowns to defensive lapses, but noted that the Auggies had no running attack and threw on almost every down. Berg attempted 59 passes.

Meidt credited the defense for limiting Augsburg on the ground and still allowing the Oles to double their opponent's point total.

"Our front four is absolutely dominant," Meidt said. "Nick Rydberg '08 is one of the best linebackers I've ever seen."

Starters on the defensive line include defensive ends James Bechdol '08 and Michael Williams '09, along with defensive tackles C.J. Tabasky '10 and Nick Tolen '10. Linebacker Rydberg led the Oles with seven tackles against Augsburg. Bechdol garnered three sacks and Williams two.

One imagines that future opponents noticed the disparity between the rushing and passing yards allowed by St. Olaf. Homecoming opponent Gustavus Adolphus boasts the league's leading passer, leading rusher and leading receiver. They rank second in team scoring behind St. Olaf.

Gustavus recently completed a brand-new stadium project and has poured significant money into their football program.

"They are a great football team with great football tradition," Meidt said. "They are committed to the football program. We have beaten them the last four years, and a win in this game puts them right in the hunt for a championship, so we'll need a huge crowd behind us."

St. Olaf plays Gustavus Saturday at 1 p.m. at Manitou Field.

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