Entering the 2017 season, the Hamline Pipers had some concerns about their defense, as they were fielding a much younger, inexperienced team than years past. This left a lot of question marks, which were answered right away on Saturday afternoon as the group held the Crown College Storm to just 166 total yards of offense in the 51-0 victory. Noah Jacobson and Mitchell Maday each had 2-sacks to lead the defense and Justice Spriggs threw for 4-TDs in the opening season win.
The first quarter proved to be a nightmare for the Storm as Hamline scored four-touchdowns. Justice Spriggs took the opening drive of the game and marched his team 80-yards in 8-plays for the score. Spriggs began the drive with back-to-back passes to Nick Kampa for 24-yards to near midfield. Brandon Miller then carried the ball twice in a row, gaining 16 total yards and setting up a first and 10 at the Crown 40. A completion to Josiah Harris moved the ball to the 20 and, three plays later, Spriggs found Harris for the touchdown to make it 7-0.
Crown was forced to punt and, following a 43-yard punt, the Pipers began their next drive at their own 22. The big play came on third and 3 at their own 26, when Spriggs completed a pass to Kyle Ketchmark for 25-yards to the Crown 46. Two plays later, Spriggs found a streaking Harrison Jones for the 33-yard touchdown and the rout was on.
The Pipers would put up two more scores before the quarter came to an end. On their third drive, Springs completed passes to Kampa for 12-yards and to Harris for 21 to put the ball at the Crown 17. Two plays later, the Hamline QB found Kyle Ell for 8-yards and the score.
Crown College was having absolutely no success in moving the ball. Through their first three drives they held the ball for just 11-plays and had -12-yards of total offense. On their third drive, a fumble put the ball at their own nine, where they were forced to punt. Isaiah Zepeda got off a booming kick that Jones received at his own 49. He made several good moves and then followed his blocking until he was finally dropped at the Crown five. Brendan Nachtrieb carried the ball in for the score on the next play to make it 28-0.
Crown was forced to punt on their next possession, but their defense came up with a big stop, forcing the first Pipers punt of the game. With the ball at their own 2, Ryan Synoground began to move the offense, hitting David McIntosh for 17-yards on the second play of the drive. They moved to the Hamline 46 in 7-plays where they were faced with a third and 2. Following a false start penalty, Synoground looked to make a big play for the first down, but Dalton Pakkala made a big play to intercept the ball and raced to the Crown one before he was finally tackled. An illegal blocking penalty moved the ball back to the 13, but it would not matter as Spriggs found Kampa for the score to make it 35-0.
On the Pipers next drive, they would start at the Crown 39 and score in 5-plays with Nachtrieb plunging in from five-yards out to extend the lead to 42. That would be the lead at the half.
The defense for Hamline had been unbelievable in the first half, allowing just 31-yards of total offense and forcing a punt on all but one possession, the interception by Pakkala.
The second half began with the Storm in possession of the ball and they began to move the ball, reaching midfield. However, on second and 7 at the Pipers 47, Synoground made a nice pass to Thomas Andrews who could not make the completion, but deflected the ball up into the air and into the hands of Devin Ulmen, who raced to the Crown 25. Four plays later Kale Wurdeman nailed a 35-yard field goal to extend the lead to 45.
The Hamline Pipers would add one more score on their next drive. Starting from their own 13, Spriggs led the offense on a 7-play drive that concluded with the Hamline QB scoring from 23-yard out to make it 51-0. That would be the final.
Justice Spriggs finished the game 16-22 for 222-yards and 4-TDs. Josiah Harris made 6-receptions for 76-yards and a TD, and Nick Kampa had 5-catches for 53-yards and a score.
The Hamline defense recorded 5-sacks, led by Michell Maday and Noah Jacobson who each had 2. Jordan Deno led the Pipers with 7-tackles. Overall, the defense allowed 166 total yards of offense to the Storm, and forced 2-interceptions.
Taylor Watkins came on in relief for Crown and looked good, completing 9 of 18 passes for 67-yards. David McIntosh had 6-receptions for 72-yards.
Next week, the Crown College Storm (0-1) will take to the road to open their UMAC season against Iowa Wesleyan. Kickoff is 1:00 PM. The Hamline Pipers will go to Macalester College to take on the Fighting Pipers. Kickoff for that contest will be at 7 PM.
By Robert Pannier