Leading 31-21 heading into the fourth quarter, the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties had to be feeling pretty good about their chances of pulling out their fourth win of the season. However, Hamline quarterback Justice Spriggs was having none of it, throwing three fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead the Hamline Pipers to the 42-40 victory.
The Gusties would grab the only score of the first quarter. Brendan Boone capped off a 12-play drive by kicking a 39-yard field goal. That made the score 3-0.
While the first quarter had been a defensive struggle, the second turned into a shootout. On their first possession of the second quarter the Pipers took the lead. Noah Jacobsen recovered a Gustavus fumble at the Gusties 44. Spriggs then led the team on an impressive drive, completing five of six passes, including a 16-yarder to Josiah Harris for the touchdown. The kick failed and it was 6-3.
The Gusties responded right away. Christian Haffner and Karim Ortiz led the drive, moving 75-yards in 8-plays. Ortiz had three-carries for 24-yards, and DaiVon Poole had one carry for 11-yards. Haffner ran for 9-yards and completed a 24-yard pass to Brayton Finch for the score to make it 10-6.
On the Pipers next possession, Spriggs pass was intercepted by Jordan Kahlow at the Hamline 46. He followed his blocks and put on a burst of speed to take the ball all the way for the touchdown to make it 17-6.
Spriggs showed incredible poise however. On the team’s next possession, he started the drive with a 40-yard pass to Nick Kampa that put the ball at the GAC 25. Two plays later, Spriggs hit Harris for the 23-yard score and, after the two-point conversion, it was 17-14.
Gustavus would be forced to punt on their next possession, giving the Hamline QB back the ball at his own 38. He then led an 8-play, 62-yard drive that took just 1:36 off of the clock. The drive started poorly when Spriggs was sacked on the first play, but three straight completions, including a 28-yard pass to Deon Bishop, moved the team down to the Gustavus 22. It looked like the Gusties defense would hold when the Pipers found themselves in third and 10, but Spriggs found Harris once again for the score and, suddenly, it was 21-17. That was how the two teams would head into the half.
The Hamline Pipers took all the momentum heading into the break, but it was Gustavus that came out on fire in the third quarter, dominating the frame. The Pipers were forced to punt of both of their possessions, while the Gusties offense scored on both of their first two possessions to start the frame.
Gustavus Adolphus took the ball first in the second half, and moved 72-yards in 12-plays to retake the lead. Haffner hit Hunter Johnson on two huge pass plays early in drive, one for 22- and the other for 18-yards. On first and goal from the one, Ortiz burst through to score to make it 24-21 Gusties.
On their next possession, Ortiz carried the ball nine times in the 12-play drive. His first two carries went for 10- and 18-yards, and he would score from four-yards out to make it 31-21.
It felt like the field was starting to slant in the Gusties way, but the fourth quarter would be an entirely different story. On the first possession of the frame for Hamline, Spriggs completed all three of his passes to move the team 65-yards for the score. Kampa had a 29-yard reception, and a 32-yard to Bishop went for a touchdown to make this a three-point game.
On the Pipers next possession, they would take the lead. The drive looked like it would be disastrous when Naji El-Araby fumbled on the second play of the drive, but Gabe Rodriguez recovered to keep the ball in the hands of his team. On the 11th play of the drive, the Hamline QB found Kampa for a four-yard touchdown to make it 35-31.
Gustavus retook the lead in short order. A personal foul call put them at their own 6. Haffner hit Johnson for 12-yards to get them out of trouble, then found Jamison Buelke for 82-yards and the score. In just 41 seconds the Gusties had completely turned the tide of the game and retaken the lead.
It was a huge momentum shifter, but Justice Spriggs was about to take that momentum right back. He completed two quick passes before being sacked for a seven-yard loss. On third and 17, he would rush for 13 to set up fourth and 4. He would get the first down on the ensuing play, but a holding call moved the ball back 10-yards, setting up fourth and 14. Spriggs faded back to pass, then found Harrison Jones for the 28-yard touchdown to give the Pipers back the lead, 42-38.
Haffner moved the ball to the Hamline 45 and looked like he would give his team back the lead. On first and 10 with a little over a minute, his pass was perfectly played by Zach Schwalbach who intercepted the pass at the Pipers 12. The Pipers then took a safety to make it 42-40 and set up the dramatic conclusion.
Gustavus had the ball at their own 24, with just 35 seconds left. Haffner quickly moved the Gusties to the Hamline 42, but Sam Archer’s hail mail pass as time expired was knocked away and the Pipers won 42-40.
Spriggs set a career mark with 475-yards passing. He also set a single game high with 6-touchdowns. Jones had 5-catches for 118-yards and a TD. Kampa made 7-catches for 112-yards and a score. Harris also had 7-catches, gaining 95-yards and 3-scores.
Haffner was 14-25 for the Gusties for 273-yards and 2-TDs. Ortiz rushed for 159-yards and 2-TDs. Johnson had 6-catches for 104-yards receiving.
Next weekend Gustavus Adolphus (3-1) will take on Concordia in their Homecoming Game. The Hamline Pipers (3-0) look to stay undefeated as they travel to Carleton.
By Robert Pannier