NEW ULM - The Minnesota Valley Lutheran football team quite literally ran over Mankato Loyola on Friday night at Johnson Field, earning 356 rushing yards in a 48-0 victory in its home opener.
Kris Goetzke (12 carries for 134 yards) and Matt Tessmer (15 carries for 94 yards) led the ground attack for the Chargers, scoring two touchdowns apiece.
"I just thought the line blocked really well and opened up a lot of holes for us to run through," Goetzke said.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Matthew Tessmer (32) is tackled by Brian Baker (83) and Andrew Sweere of Mankato Loyola Friday at Johnson Field in New Ulm.
MVL only completed one pass throughout the entire game in four attempts, a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Grunke to Justin Bruns.
After the Crusaders began the game with a four-and-out, the Chargers wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, scoring on their first possession.
Tessmer appeared on course to bring the ball into the end zone on the drive, but he fumbled the ball right at the goal line. However, Mark Grunke was on the scene to recover the ball in the end zone for a touchdown - a rare feat for him since he plays on the MVL offensive line.
"I saw him get hit and then the ball come out, and then I just rushed for the ball," Mark Grunke said.
Goetzke (4-for-4 on extra point tries) converted the extra point to put MVL ahead 7-0.
The Chargers' next score came with 6:52 remaining in the second quarter, when Ryan Grunke connected with Bruns on a first-and-10 play (Goetzke extra point good).
MVL recovered a fumble on Loyola's next possession, then put together a 12-play drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown scamper by Tessmer with 23 seconds remaining in the half.
After Goetzke's extra point kick sailed through the uprights, MVL entered halftime with a 21-0 lead.
The Chargers didn't let up in the second half, with Goetzke entering the end zone untouched for a one-yard score on the first possession of the half.
The snap on the extra point try was high, but holder Ryan Grunke recovered and ran into the right-hand corner of the end zone for a two-point play to make the score 29-0.
On MVL's next possession, a 42-yard keeper by Ryan Grunke (five carries for 57 yards) set up a 17-yard scoring run by Tessmer with 56 seconds left in the third quarter. Goetzke's PAT made the score 36-0.
Goetzke scored his second touchdown with 10:33 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard run (extra point try by Andrew Kuester blocked) and the Chargers rounded out their scoring with a 51-yard touchdown run on a keeper by DeAndre Parker, who took over at quarterback for Ryan Grunke at the end of the game (extra point try no good after a bad snap).
"We played with a lot of energy - it's good to play at home," MVL head coach Jim Buboltz said. "It's good to be back home, that's really the story of it for me tonight... to be back home at Johnson Field in front of our fans is awesome."
Tyler Mielke led the Chargers' defense with 11 tackles and also recorded the lone sack in the contest. He also had 21 yards rushing on six carries.
Seth Kroells had five tackles for MVL and Ryan Grunke and Chad Lease each reeled in an interception off of Crusaders starting quarterback Blake Matuska.
Loyola only managed 147 rushing yards in the contest and was 0-for-10 on pass attempts.
MVL improves to 2-2 on the season. Each of its previous three games were decided by eight points or fewer.
"We played four quarters," Buboltz said of the difference between Friday's game and his team's previous games. "The line, in my mind, that was the biggest change. They were physical up front, and I thought our offensive line and defensive line did a very nice job of containing them. That was the biggest difference."
The Chargers will return to the road to face Blooming Prairie at 7 p.m. on Friday.