The Crown College Storm entered the 2016 season with big hopes, and Hamline University was to be the first gauge of where this team is at. Following this contest, the Storm will be reassessing where they are at after Justice Spriggs threw for 333-yards and 3-TDs to lead the Pipers to the 29-9 victory.
Hamline took the opening kickoff and quickly moved down the field from the their own 38 to the Crown 3-yard line in just five plays. However, the Storm defense stiffened and they would stuff three straight runs by Naji El-Araby to make it fourth and goal at the 1. Hamline decided to go for it with Spriggs keeping the ball, but he was stopped as well, and the Crown College defense had made the first big play of the game.
The offense would not be able to move the ball and was forced to punt after six-plays. The Pipers took over at their own 40 and, once again, moved quickly to the Crown 39 in just three-plays. On the fourth play of the drive, Spriggs found Harrison Jones for a 39-yard touchdown pass to give his team a 7-0 lead.
It would stay what way through the first quarter and into the second when the Pipers would extend their lead. With 13:26 left in the half, Hamline started at their own 12-yard line. On the first play, El-Araby broke outside and raced 46-yards down to the Storm 42 before he was finally tackled. Following a false start penalty, the Pipers faced a second and 13, but Spriggs made a huge pass to Jaimen Hampton that was caught for 15-yards and a first down. That would put the ball at the 30, and it looked like the Storm may stop them when they held the Pipers to just 8-yards over their next three plays. That set up a fourth and 2 at the 22, and Hamline decided to go for it again. This time Spriggs used his arm, hitting Josiah Harris for 22-yards and the touchdown to make it 14-0.
Crown would then drive 72-yards to get on the board. Taylor Watkins, making his first start at the quarterback position for the Storm, completed two huge passes on the drive, both to Thomas Andrews, one for 12- and the other for 21-yards. Eventually, the 12-play drive would stall at the 3, and the Storm went for field goal, as Chad Anenson drilled a 20-yarder to make it 14-3.
Hamline would get one more score before the half. Spriggs would do it all on the 14-play drive, rushing or throwing on 10 of the plays. His one-yard run on first and goal would go for the score, with the extra point attempt failing. That made it 20-3.
Coming out of the half, the Crown College Storm were looking for a spark and they got it when they drove 85-yards to get back on the scoreboard. Watkins got the drive going with two quick completions, the second of which resulted in a first down. His biggest play of the drive was a big time pass to Trey Peace that went for 40-yards down to the Hamline 16. Matt Michaud would cap off the drive when he scored from 2-yards out to make it 20-9. On the extra point, Anthony Hill blocked the kick and returned it the length of the field for the score. That made it 22-9.
The Pipers would then add one more score on their next possession. Spriggs would have a huge series, completing a 17-yard pass to Harris on the first play of the drive, and then tossing a 14-yard strike to Jay Hendrycks on the next play. A 33-yard strike to Harris would go for a touchdown and move the lead to 29-9. That would be the final score.
Spriggs finished 25-33 for 333-yards and 3-TDs. He also rushed for 42-yards and a score. El-Araby led the Pipers with 79-yards rushing on 20-carries. Harris had 6-catches for 93-yards and 2-TDs.
For Crown College, Watkins had a solid performance, going 18-30 for 202 yards. Andrews had 8-catches for 86-yards and Peace had 4-catches for 85-yards.
Josh Bozek led the storm with 14-tackles and a forced fumble. Elliot Wiens had 10-tackles.
Crown College heads home and will take on Northwestern next Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 7PM.
By Robert Pannier