MIAC Featured Game of the Week: Austin Duncan Leads the Hamline Pipers March to Victory

MIAC Featured Game of the Week: Austin Duncan Leads the Hamline Pipers March to Victory On a night when Hamline University saw a record crowd of over 2,400 in attendance, the home crowd left happy as their team delivered a huge victory over rival Macalester. While the defense had an outstanding game and gave their offense incredible field position virtually all night, it was the running of star half back Austin Duncan that helped Hamline to improve their record to 2-0 for the first time since 2005.

The Pipers dominated play for much of the first quarter, but came out of it leading only 7-0. Hamline took the opening kick-off and drove 70 yards to the Macalester two yard line in 12 plays. There the drive stalled, and on fourth and goal the Pipers brought on Forrest Coughlin to give them the lead, but his kick hit the right upright and bounced back, thwarting the drive.

The Pipers next drive stalled at the Macalester 30. On fourth and 18, Coach Chad Rogosheske had a tough choice to make, and he decided to punt. It was a great choice. Punter Kyle Johnson kicked a high punt that was downed at the 2-yard line of the Scots and gave the Pipers defense incredible field position.

On the second play of the Macalester drive, Scots QB Sam Bialostok saw his pass hit off the hands of the intended receiver and into the waiting arms of DB Zach Schwalbach for the interception. That gave the Pipers the ball at the Scots 17, and there would be no doubt about who would have the ball on this possession. Running the wild cat offense, Duncan carried the ball both times, first rushing to the 10, and then taking his second run to the house for a 7-0 Hamline lead.

The second quarter began with Macalester punting, but the snap went over the punter’s head and through the end zone for a safety, and the Pipers were up 9-0.

The defenses then stuffed each offense on their opening drives of the quarter, and neither team was able to get a first down. On Hamline’s second possession of the quarter, the Pipers got the ball at their own 37 and rode the legs of Duncan down to the Macalester two. There the drive stalled again, and Hamline turned back to Coughlin for the 20 yard field goal, but this time the kicker pushed it right keeping the score at 9-0.

The Scots had been stymied by a smothering Hamline defense all half, but on their last possession of the first half they were finally able to get on the scoreboard. Following a turnover on downs at their own 20, Macalester moved the ball 80 yards on 14 plays. Bialostok completed five of 10 passes on the drive for 54 yards and he also added 25 yards rushing. The Scots finally finished the drive when Zandy Stowell ran off-tackle for the touchdown. The extra-point attempt was blocked, but it was a huge score with just one second left.

The two teams went to the locker room with Hamline leading 9-6, but it was a game that the Hamline defense had controlled. They held Macalester to just 120 yards of offense, and only 56 of that came through the air.

The third quarter became Hamiline’s chance to establish its dominance and that is what they did. It began with the great plays by Johnson, who pinned Macalester with absolutely terrible field position with the punts and kick-offs he was dropping in.

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Scots were forced to punt. Their defense stalled the Pipers drive, forcing them to punt as well. That is when Johnson became as big a weapon as anyone on the field. From his own 49 he booted a perfect punt toward the sideline that rolled out of bounds at the Scots’ three yard line. Pressed up against their end zone, the Scots were unable to put together a drive and so they were forced to punt.

Hamline got the ball after a 20-yard punt, and began the drive at the Macalester 31. They moved the ball to the seven, but had trouble getting it into the end zone, and were forced to kick a field goal. This time Coughlin drilled it through the uprights, and it was 12-6.

This was a general problem for the Pipers on this night. They had great opportunities in the red zone, but were unable to put the ball in the end zone. Some may fault Coughlin’s earlier misses as an issue, but Hamline had the ball at the Macalester 2, 3 and 2 again, and all they were able to garner was three field goal attempts. Macalester’s defense had stood tall when it mattered most, and the Pipers were not taking advantage of their chances.

After the field goal, Johnson kicked the ball back to Macalester. The ball seemed to hang in the air for 15 seconds, giving his teammates time to race down the field and reach the returner before he could build up any steam. Tre Nowacynski received the ball at the six, but Zaman Herrera made a great open field tackle at the eight to pin the Scots deep in their territory again.

Once again the Hamline defense came up big, forcing a three and out by the Scots. Matt Glasenapp’s punt went 34 yards and was downed at the Macalester 49. From there the Pipers used their ground game, getting carries from Duncan and Naji El-Araby. The two combined for four carries for 49 yards, and El-Araby scored on a two yard scamper. After a successful two point conversion the score was 20-6.

Hamline had the ball to begin the fourth quarter and moved 13 plays to eat up over seven minutes on the clock and set-up a 30-yard field goal from Coughlin. That was a career long for the youngster and made the score 23-6.

The Scots were not going down however. Samson Bialostok led the team on an eight play, 76-yard drive that made the score 23-13. He was 4-6 on the drive for 43 yards, and Ethan Carpenter ran the ball in from two yards out for the score.

The defense for the Scots held the Pipers to a three and out on their next possession, putting the ball back in Bialostok’s hands. His offense took the ball at their own 32 and looked like they were going to make this a one score game. A big personal foul penalty on second and 14 gave the Scots a first down, and was the second personal foul call the Pipers had received in the last two drives. The next two plays resulted in just six yards, setting up a third and four from the Hamline 36. Bialostok faded back and had a receiver open, but DB Jack Swanberg read the play perfectly, picking off the bal,l ending the drive and sealing the game. It was a big moment for Swanberg, who used his insights as a former quarterback to read opposing signal callers and make plays. None was bigger on this night as his coach praised the savvy play of Swanberg.

Following the game the Pipers coach had lots to say about the performance of his team. He praised the performance of his special teams, especially his two kickers. Coach Rogosheske talked about how important it was to show confidence in his young place kicker and how he was rewarded with three late kicks that helped to seal the game.

The second half was dominated early by the Pipers defense and it was the kicks of Johnson that set-up terrible field position for the Scots. The Pipers Coach had nothing but accolades for his kicker, talking of how placed perfect kicks deep and had great hang-time on his punts.

He then praised his star back, who finished with 245 yards on 32 carries. It was the second biggest game of his career. That had been set the previous season, also during a night game when had 298 yards on a 49 carry night.

While Coach Rogosheske had great things to say about his team’s efforts, his most enthusiastic words were for his running back. He talked of how the team got “exactly what we expected out him” from their star back. He praised the durability and resiliency of Duncan to take a pounding week-after-week and still come back looking as strong as ever, telling how the big back made his job as a signal caller so much easier.

Duncan accepted the praise of his coach, but showed his true humility by giving the credit to his offensive line, calling their night “exceptional.” He spoke of how he felt he had a night like this in him from the moment he entered the stadium earlier in the day, and Duncan surely delivered on this night.

Macalester will have a week to regroup before travelling to Grinnell two Saturdays from now. Hamline will travel to St. Peter to face Gustavus Adolphus in an early season clash of two undefeated teams.

By Robert Pannier
Senior Writer Covering the MIAC