Leavens, Defense Lead Pipers Past St. Scholastica, 34-18
The Hamline University Pipers moved to 3-1 with a decisive 34-18 victory over St. Scholastica on Saturday. Hamline took a 20-0 lead into the half, then withstood two fourth-quarter touchdowns by the Saints. Quarterback Connor Leavens had a big day, throwing for 282 yards and three touchdowns. The defense recorded five sacks, led by Max Fick with 1.5.
The Pipers took the opening kickoff at their 30, moving to the St. Scholastica 16 where they faced a fourth and goal. The team opted to go for a field goal, and Lucius Negrillo drilled a 33 yarder to give Hamline a 3-0 lead.
The Pipers defense shut down the Saints on their first possession of the game, as they forced a three and out. That gave Hamline the ball at their own 19, and they quickly moved down the field, as three straight completions from Leavens put the ball at the Saints 36. However, the Hamline quarterback was picked off by Jalen Davis at the St. Scholastica 17.
The defense stepped up once again, forcing the Saints to punt after just three plays. That put the ball back in Leavens hands, and he would not be denied this time, moving his team 87 yards in eight plays before throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ryder Hutton to give the Pipers a 10-0 lead. Leavens got the drive started with a 22-yard completion to Eli Danielson and added a 34-yard strike to Matt Miller. Leavens completed five of six passes on the drive.
On the first play of the second quarter, Caleb Lueders intercepted a Byron Bishop pass at the St. Scholastica 30-yard line. Five plays later, Leavens found Hutton once again, this time for a 19-yard touchdown to give Hamline a 17-0 lead.
Just before the end of the half, Negrillo nailed a 29-yard field goal attempt to give Pipers a 20-0 lead.
The Pipers dominated play in the first half, but St. Scholastica would score on their second possession following the break. On third and nine from their own 39, Bishop went up top to Pete Saint Fleur for a 61-yard touchdown to make a 20-6 game.
The Pipers responded right away, moving 75 yards in eight plays before Leavens found Charlie Wilson for a 5-yard touchdown. Moses Nelson had two big plays on the drive, recording a 26-yard run and adding an 18-yard reception.
Hamline was dominating entering the fourth quarter, holding a 27-6 lead, but St. Scholastica would gain possession of the ball 13 seconds into the fourth quarter, and cut the deficit to 15 with an impressive 12 play, 73-yard drive. The Saints converted two third-down plays as Bishop completed six of seven passes. His 1-yard touchdown run capped off the drive.
With a little over one minute left in the game, Terrell Jones scored from 3 yards out to give Hamline a 34-12 lead. The drive was set up when Jalen Carr recovered a Bryceton Butkiewicz fumble at the Saints 21. The Pipers looked like they would settle for a field goal when they faced fourth and goal at the St. Scholastica six, but a penalty gave the Pipers a fresh set of downs, and Jones delivered three plays later.
St. Scholastica added one more touchdown on the final play of the game when Bishop hit Mitchell Adrian for 20 yards. The two-point conversion was no good, giving the final score of 34-18.
Leavens had a big day for Hamline, completing 17 of 30 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. His leading target was Hutton, who had six receptions for 88 yards and two scores. Nikolas Rocafort led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 57 yards. Nelson had four carries for 42 yards and added one reception for 18 yards. Fick finished with 1.5 sacks and seven tackles. Carson Reinard had nine tackles.
Bishop completed 17 of 35 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns for St. Scholastica. Saint Fleur had three catches for 83 yards and a score, and Adrian had seven receptions for 72 yards and a TD. Butkiewicz carried the ball 17 times for 74 yards.
Hamline University (3-1) will travel up Snelling Avenue to take on the Bethel University Royals (3-1) on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier