Fourth Quarter Surge Propels St. Scholastica Past Hamline
The Hamline University Pipers held a 15-point lead heading in the final quarter on Saturday, but watched St. Scholastica rally for 16 unanswered points on their way to a 43-42 victory. Saints quarterback Donald West led the way, throwing for 359 yards and three touchdowns. The loss spoiled a big day for Pipers quarterback Alejandro Villanueva, who threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Charlie Wilson set a single game high with 14 receptions for 187 yards and two scores.
St. Scholastica took a 14-7 lead coming out of the first quarter. After receiving the opening kickoff, the team moved 54 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead. West bailed the team out of three third-down situations, the first making a 21-yard completion to Nick Schlender and the second setting up a fourth and two, where Schlender carried the ball 3 yards for another first down. At third and goal at the Hamline six, West found Wyatt Lahr for a touchdown.
Things looked like they would implode early when the Pipers fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Saints the ball at the Pipers 21. After Schlender rushed 8 yards to set up second and two, the defense stiffened, forcing three incomplete passes before St. Scholastica turned the ball over on downs.
Back the other direction Hamline went, putting together an impressive 87-yard drive that took 16 plays and 5:50 off the clock. Villanueva got the drive going when he found Wilson down the seam for 20 yards. After Nikolas Rocafort gave his team a fresh set of downs, carrying the ball twice for 12 yards, Villanueva found Ryder Hutton for 12 yards and another first down. With the team at midfield, it looked like the drive may stall when they were faced with a third and 12, but Villanueva connected with Wilson once again, finding him down the right sideline for 13 yards and another first down. The Pipers continued to methodically move down the field, reaching the 1-yard line where Rocafort scored on the 16th play of the drive to make it 7-7.
St. Scholastica responded right away, moving 56 yards in 10 plays to retake the lead. West got the drive going with two straight completions to Ricky Weber, then found Lahr for 13 more yards and another first down. Faced with a third and 11 at the Hamline 27, West connected with Benjamin Hunter down the middle to the Pipers 10. Three plays later, Schlender rushed up the middle to make it 14-7.
This time it was Hamline University that did a little responding, going 66 yards to tie the score at 14. Villanueva found Ryan Lauterbach for three straight completions to start the drive, then connected with Hutton for 12 yards just before the end of the first quarter. That put the ball at the St. Scholastica 45. The team stayed to the air, as the Hamline quarterback threw two incompletions before finding Lauterbach for 10 yards and another first down. A 13-yard completion to Eli Danielson put the ball at the Saints 10. Two plays later, Villanueva connected with David Couper for 6 yards and his first touchdown throw of the day.
Both team’s defenses stiffened, but Hamline would take their first lead of the game with 1:52 left in the half. Starting from their own 24, the team moved 76 yards before taking a 21-14 lead. Villanueva was spectacular on the drive, getting the team out of trouble after he was sacked for a 7 yard loss, setting up a second and 17 at the St. Scholastica 29. He connected with Wilson for 16 yards, then found Lauterbach for another first down. On fourth and goal at the two, Terrell Jones burst up the middle to score to make it a seven-point Pipers advantage.
The Hamline defense stiffened once again, forcing a punt, but another fumble by the Pipers gave St. Scholastica the ball at the Hamline 34. This time they would not be denied, as West found Lahr for 24 yards and a touchdown to make it 21-20. Caleb Lueders blocked the extra point to keep Hamline on top by one.
Coming out of the half, Hamline dominated, taking their opening drive 71 yards before extending their lead to eight. Wilson got the drive going, as the team employed the wildcat, with Wilson finding a seam to the left, then racing 51 yards before being tackled. Three plays later, Villanueva kept the ball, rushing for 7 yards to make it 28-20.
The Saints responded, cutting the deficit to one once again. West gave his team a first down with an 11-yard carry, then found Hunter for 18 yards down to the Hamline 25. Faced with fourth and sixth at the Hamline eight, the team went for it and West delivered, keeping the ball and carrying it 8 yards for the score.
Hamline extended their lead to eight once again, scoring on the next drive. Wilson got the drive going once again, carrying the ball 20 yards to the Hamline 39. After Jones gave his team another first down with a 10-yard carry, Villanueva kept the ball, this time rushing outside before finding some room down the sideline, knocked out of bounds after gaining 27 yards. The Pipers stayed on the ground, as Jones rushed up the middle for 17 yards down to the St. Scholastica seven. Two plays later, Villanueva found Wilson for another touchdown to make it 35-27.
The Hamline defense stuffed the Saints on the next drive, knocking the ball from Wilson as he raced up the middle, forcing a fumble. Carson Reinard jumped on the ball, giving the Pipers possession at their own 38. The lead became 15 11-plays later, when Villanueva found Wilson heading toward the corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown to make it 42-27.
This game looked like Hamline would dominate, as Croix Zacharias intercepted a West pass two plays into the next drive for St. Scholastica. That gave Hamline the ball at their own 33, but they would be forced to punt four plays later.
The big defensive stand helped to turn the tide, as the Saints moved 56 yards in 10 plays to pull within eight. Ashton Hain completed the drive, going to his left for 8 yards and a touchdown.
Hamline moved right back down the field, getting to the St. Scholastica seven where they faced second in five. There, Villanueva kept the ball, moving to his left, but was dropped for 3 yard loss. Simon Randorf forced the ball out of Villanueva’s hands, and Luke Liska recovered.
The Saints had the ball at their 10, but were forced to punt. Hamline could not move the ball on their next possession, punting as well. That gave St. Scholastica the ball at their own 35, and this time they would not be denied, keeping the ball on the ground for five of the eight plays. However, West starred on the drive, carrying the ball three times for 12 yards, and completing all four of his past attempts, including an 8 yard strike to Weber on fourth and goal at the Hamline eight. The team went for the two-point conversion but failed, making it 42-40.
The St. Scholastica defense was fired up, forcing the Pipers to punt after just four plays. That gave the Saints the ball at their own 43, and they moved 50 yards in seven plays, taking just 43 seconds off the clock before reaching the Hamline seven with five seconds left in the contest. There, Kyle Oswald hit a 26-yard field goal to put St. Scholastica on top for good, 43-42.
Hamline was able to run two more plays, using a series of laterals on the final play of the game, but were dropped at their own 40 as the game came to an end.
The teams combined for 1041 yards of total offense. Hamline rushed for 267 yards and threw for 309, setting a season-high with 576 yards of total offense. Villanueva had his best day of the season, completing 31 of 43 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 12 times for 60 yards and another score. Wilson had 267 yards of total offense, including 187 in receiving yards. He led the team with 83 yards on just six carries.
The Hamline defense was led by Zach Griebel and Jevon Jones who each had 12 tackles. The Pipers had no sacks and made one interception.
Next Saturday, the Hamline University Pipers (2-2) head up Snelling Avenue to take on the Bethel University (3-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier