St. John’s/Wisconsin-River Falls: Behind the numbers (the day after)

OK, we’re almost 24 hours late on this. But with an arrival back in St. Cloud of 2:30 a.m. last night – and a full Saturday – it’s had to wait until now.

So without further adieu, let’s briefly re-visit the Johnnies’ 17-14 comeback win at Wisconsin-River Falls Friday night by delving a little deeper Behind the Numbers


That’s how many career victories Gary Fasching has at the collegiate level after his team rallied with a touchdown and a 40-yard field goal in the final minute to down the Falcons in his debut as the team’s head coach.

Afterward, a very hoarse Fasching talked about his team’s resiliency – rallying to win a game in which they struggled for stretches on both sides of the ball. And he mentioned the lasting legacy of John Gagliardi, the man he is replacing in the top job.

“We’ve talked about that as a team,” Fasching said. “We never give up. We never stop believing in ourselves. That’s the way John Gagliardi always treated things. That’s the St. John’s way.”

Fasching also praised his coaching staff, citing Jim Gagliardi especially for his work in the booth on the Johnnies’ final two scoring drives.

“Jim did a great job up there,” Fasching said. “He noticed a couple of things and radioed them down to me. We were able to use them.”

The offense scored on its first drive of the game – marching 78 yards in 11 plays in a possession capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Jake Essler. But the Johnnies did not score again until Essler’s second 2-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds left to play.

St. John’s had 323 yards of total offense, but recorded 191 of those yards on its three scoring drives. Yet Fasching said there were plays there for the taking.

“We had some guys open down field and we didn’t see it,” Fasching said. “There were a couple of plays when we just didn’t execute. We had our chances.”


That’s how many yards Johnson, a freshman from Shakopee, was able to connect from to kick the game-winning field goal in his first collegiate game.

But Johnson also kicked a pivotal extra point to tie the score after Essler’s touchdown run – a kick he might not have had the chance to take had the coaching staff followed through on their intention to go for the two-point conversion and the lead. Only a delay of game penalty that pushed St. John’s back convinced Fasching to send on Johnson.

“(Co-defensive coordinator) Brandon Novak wanted to go for two if we scored,” Fasching said. “I wasn’t sure so I asked (defensive coordinator) Jerry (Haugen). He said yes. (Offensive coordinator) Kurt (Ramler) said absolutely yes. We felt like we had a good play called. Unfortunately, we took that penalty and that moved the ball back.”

Johnson’s point tied the score and the St. John’s defense then came up big, forcing a Wisconsin-River Falls punt with just under 25 seconds to go. Defensive end Matt Workman had a pair of big stops on that drive, sacking Falcons quarterback Ryan Kusilek, then stopping backup Phillip Martola for a loss of two on the next play.

“I though the defense played well,” Fasching said. “They moved the ball on us. But we did a great job of stopping them when we needed to in the second half.”


That’s how many scout-on-scout games will be played this season as the coaching staff continues to stress individual player development. The first was held Saturday morning at Clemens Stadium.

Most of the participants weren’t among the 82 players who made the trip to River falls the night before, though there was some crossover.

Around the MIAC

Elsewhere in the MIAC Saturday:

* St. Thomas showed it hasn’t lost a step. The three-time defending MIAC champions shelled Wisconsin-Eau Claire 52-7 at home. The Johnnies play host to the Blugolds next Saturday in Collegeville, then face the Tommies on the road the following week. St. Thomas, meanwhile, plays at Wisconsin-River Falls on Thursday night:

* Quarterback Ayrton Scott threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 197 yards and two more touchdowns as Augsburg had little trouble on the road, winning 51-17 at Concordia (Wis.):

* Concordia opened up with a win at home, downing Jamestown (N.D.) 39-14:

* Anthony Kemper had eight catches for 154 yards as Carleton opened up with a 29-10 win over Grinnell (Iowa):

* Matt Penz threw for four touchdowns as St. Olaf topped Northwestern 27-18. That meant new Oles coach Craig Stern won his debut:

* And Hamline made in an undefeated weekend for the MIAC in nonconference play, downing Minnesota-Morris 41-33 in Chad Rogosheske’s first game as head coach. Austin Duncan rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns:

* Bethel and Gustavus don’t open the season until next week

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