COLLEGEVILLE, MN. - The young quarterback and the old coach at St. John's University formed a pretty good team Saturday.
Nick Martin, a freshman from Plymouth, passed for 121 yards and one touchdown and ran for 103 yards and another score to rally the Johnnies to a 31-17 MIAC victory over Gustavus Adolphus.
It was the last home game for the St. John's seniors at Clemens Stadium and, possibly, for their head coach, John Gagliardi, if rumors about his imminent retirement are correct.
Gagliardi, who turns 86 Thursday, said he'll make a decision on next season when he has to -- not any sooner.
He said the Johnnies (4-4, 2-4) still have two more games left, at Hamline and at Bethel. They have to win both to finish with a winning record for the 26th consecutive season.
This was Martin's fourth start after replacing injured Connor Bruns, a junior out with a separated shoulder.
"If it's open, I am going to take off," Martin said, asked about his five rushes. "It is definitely an exciting thing to do. It is different from last year."
His 38-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter gave St. John's a 17-14 lead. Late that same quarter, he completed four passes for 45 yards on the Johnnies' winning touchdown drive. It ended with Colin Moynihan's 3-yard run, which made the score 24-17.
"This kid [Martin] has stepped up and done a heck of a job," Gagliardi said. "We could have collapsed completely. When you lose your No. 1 quarterback, I don't care what level you are at ... you're in trouble."
Martin said that as a player he has no say in Gagliardi's future, but "I am hoping John comes back. I'd like to see him for another year. He is a legend."
He certainly is.
Gagliardi is the all-time leader in victories among college football coaches. His career record is 488-137-11 in 64 seasons.
"[Today was] a very competitive game, for the most part. It got away from us at the end," fourth-year Gustavus coach Peter Haugen said. "[Their quarterback] made a couple big plays when he needed to."
Haugen said he enjoys talking with Gagliardi at games every season. "Everybody has got a lot of respect for him and all the work that he has done over the many years," he said.
This is Gagliardi's 60th season at St. John's.
After the game, Gagliardi lingered on the field, which he rarely does. He stopped for photos, visited with parents. Was he savoring the moment or his career?
If someone asked a red-clan Johnnies fan -- Joe Sybrant of Shakopee or Steve Holupchinski of North St. Paul or Maureen Forsythe of St. Cloud -- they all said they want him to return.
"I think [Gagliardi] is going to want to coach until it is his last day," Sybrant said, " and he should be allowed to do that. He has done so much for St. John's."