After a couple of tough loses on the road, the Hamline University Pipers returned home to take on the Carleton College Knights on Saturday. The Pipers have traditionally been a lot tougher to play at night, and that proved to be the case in this contest as well, as they pulled off the 30-19 victory. Quarterback Justice Spriggs threw for 287-yards and also ran for 81 in leading Hamline to victory.
The game started out looking like it would be an offensive show as both teams scored on their initial possession of the game. Hamline received the opening kickoff and would move 68-yards in six plays. Brenden Nachtrieb carried the ball on the first three plays, gaining nine yards total, setting up a fourth and 1. Head Coach Chip Taylor opted to go for it, and the team dialed up the big play, as Justice Spriggs hit Josiah Harris for a 37-yard pickup and a first down. On the next play, Spriggs connected with Harrison Jones for 20-yards and the touchdown to make it 6-0. The point after attempt was blocked to keep it a six-point lead.
The Knights responded right away. After Travis Brown returned the kickoff to the Carleton 43, the team methodically moved the ball down the field, taking 10-plays to move 57-yards before they would reach the end zone. Three times the Knights faced a third down on the possession, but always found a way to move the chains. That included on a third and 12 at the Hamline 23 when Christian Zaytoun completed a pass to Dana Birkeland for 13-yards and a first down. On second and goal at the seven, Logan Emholtz burst to the right and found a lane, reaching the end zone to tie the game. The point after attempt was blocked to leave the game tied at six.
Hamline moved the ball on their next possession as well. They started at their own 25, and moved 65-yards to the Carleton 10 before they were faced with a fourth and 10. Kale Wudeman came on for the field goal attempt, but Spencer Francis was able to block the kick, keeping it tied at six.
On the next possession for the Pipers, they would reach the end zone. The Knights were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt. The ball was downed at the Carleton 43, and moved to the 15 when Spriggs found Harris for 28-yards on the first play. Six plays later, Nachtrieb burst into the end zone to make it 12-6.
Just before the half, Hamline would score again. Spriggs completed two passes to move the ball to the Carleton 45. He then kept the ball on the next three plays, rushing for a total of 24-yards to the Knights 21. Harris then carried the ball twice to reach the seven, before Spriggs found Frank Mems for the seven-yard touchdown to make it 18-6. That would be the score at the half.
The Knights received the kickoff to start the second half and they would move 58-yards in 10-plays to cut the deficit to five. Emmanuel Williams carried the ball six times, helping Carleton to reach the Hamline 14. On third and 8, Zaytoun completed a pass to Mark Leedy for 12-yards and the touchdown to make it 18-13.
The Pipers responded right away, reaching the end zone on their next possession. Spriggs completed three passes on the drive, including a 46-yard completion to Nick Barber for a touchdown that made it 24-13.
Carleton responded to pull back within five. Williams carried the ball on three of the first four plays, gaining 28-yards. A 22-yard pass from Zaytoun to Leedy put the ball at the Pipers four, and Williams scored on the next play to make it 24-19.
There was 4:48 left in the third quarter and Hamline was clinging to a five-point lead when the Pipers began a 13-play drive that took 6:08 off the clock. The Pipers QB completed an 11-yard pass that moved the ball to the Hamline 33, and later had an 18-yard run to the Carleton 30. The drive looked like it would end without the home team able to get points when they reached the 13, but three straight plays yielded no yards, setting up a fourth and 10. Coach Taylor opted to go for it and Spriggs came up huge, finding Jones for 13-yards and the score to make it 30-19.
On the next possession for Carleton, Mitchell Maday made a huge play, forcing a fumble by Williams that was recovered by Jordan Deno. The Pipers were unable to move the ball, but ate 2:40 more off the clock before being forced to punt.
The Knights then put together a drive moving to the Hamline 31 where they were first and 10. However, a penalty moved them back five yards and the next four passes fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs.
Hamline took the ball from their own 36 and moved 50-yards, burning off the final 5:47 of the clock to end the game, giving the Pipers the 30-19 victory.
Justice Spriggs led the Hamline offense, completing 19 of 32 passes for 287-yards and 4-touchdowns. Spriggs also gained 81-yards on ground on 15-carries. Nick Barber had 8-receptions for 134-yards and a TD. Harrison Jones had 2-touchdown receptions. On defense, Luke Trudell led the Pipers with 11-tackles.
Next weekend, the Hamline Pipers (2-2) head to Northfield to take on St. Olaf. Kickoff is at 1:00 PM.
By Robert Pannier