Gustavus Adolphus Gets Early Lead on Way to 35-7 Win over Bearcats

SALEM, OR - Gustavus Adolphus College recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and scored two plays later, as the Golden Gusties took an early lead on their way to a 35-7 victory over Willamette University on Saturday, Sept. 9 at McCulloch Stadium. The game was the season opener for Gustavus Adolphus. Willamette dropped to 0-2 on the season.

Gustavus took over at the Willamette 21-yard line following the opening kickoff. After gaining six yards on first down, the visitors from Minnesota reached the end zone on a 15-yard run by Adam Lukes.

The opening quarter included two more scores for the Golden Gusties, who began the second period with a 21-0 lead. Gustavus Adolphus added another touchdown with three seconds left in the half to take a 28-0 lead at the intermission.

Sophomore wide receiver Chad Arlt caught 8 passes for 188 yards and 2 TDs for the Golden Gusties. He had 7 catches for 173 yards in the first half, including a 44-yard touchdown catch with 27 seconds left in the first quarter and a 3-yard touchdown reception on GAC's second-quarter score.

Quarterback Jordan Stolp was 16 of 21 passing for 239 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions for Gustavus. He also went 5 for 5 on extra point kicks.

The Golden Gusties gained 363 yards of total offense, including 124 yards on 38 running plays. Mitch Anderson led the Golden Gusties with 66 yards on 11 carries.Most of the rushing yardage was earned in the second half, after Willamette held GAC to just 26 yards on 16 carries during the first two periods.

For Willamette, C.J. Washington (Jr., RB, Spokane, WA/Shadle Park HS) scored the Bearcats' first touchdown with 12:36 left in the fourth quarter. Washington scored by returning a fumble 10 yards to the end zone after Gustavus Adolphus defensive back Isaac Perry intercepted a pass, then fumbled the ball a couple of steps later. Matt Bicocca (Jr. PK, San Andreas, CA/Calaveras HS) converted the extra point.

Although Gustavus Adolphus controlled much of the game, the Bearcats did have several other scoring chances. Bicocca missed just short and barely wide on a 45-yard field goal with 3:02 left in the second quarter. On the drive that led to the missed field goal, starting quarterback Kevin Whipps (Jr., Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) appeared to have thrown a touchdown pass to Jonathan Irizarry (Sr., WR, Woodside, CA/Woodside HS) on 3rd-and-19 at the GAC 28-yard line, but defender Brian Evans dove in front of Irizarry at the last second to swat down the ball in the end zone.

The Bearcats also reached the GAC 15-yard line late in the third quarer, but were stopped on downs when reserve quarterback Grant Leslie (Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) was sacked on fourth down. Late in the game, the Bearcats stopped the Golden Gusties on fourth-and-goal just inches from the goal line, then drove to the GAC 19-yard line before time ran out.

Irizarry led the Bearcats with five receptions for 80 yards. Mike Plank (Sr., WR, Stockton, CA/Franklin HS), who dropped the ball when he was hit returning the opening kickoff, saw limited action, but caught three passes for 33 yards.

Whipps was 6 of 12 passing for 453 yards, but had two interceptions. Leslie was 3 of 7 for 65 yards, plus the interception that ironically led to WU's only touchdown.

Willamette's rushing attack was limited to 133 yards on 33 carries. Jarvis Tanquary (Jr., FL, Eugene, OR/Sheldon HS) was the top rusher for WU, as he gained 32 yards on just one carry. Devon Conroy (Fr., FL, Palmer, AK/Palmer HS) added 28 yards on thre carries.

Skylar Swinford (Jr., RB, McCall, ID/McCall-Donnelly HS) had seven rushes for 23 yards before suffering an injury in the first half. Ryan Hernandez (Sr., FL, Portland, OR/Portland Christian HS), who rushed for 79 yards on 11 carries in the season opener against Western Oregon University, gained 36 yards on eight carries against the Golden Gusties.

The Bearcats committed a total of five turnovers on three interceptions and two fumbles. Willamette has lost the ball a total of nine times in two games. Gustavus Adolphus had no interceptions, but lost 2 of 3 three fumbles during the game.

Phil Sweet (Jr., LB, Albany, OR/West Albany HS) led the Bearcats with 10 total tackles. Senior defensive back Kevin Hegland was GAC's leading tackler, as he recorded five solo tackles and three assists.

Willamette plays at California Lutheran University on Saturday, Sept. 16. Game time in Thousand Oaks, Calif. is set for 1 p.m. (PDT).