Knights Dominate Early to Slay Pipers, 35-7
The Hamline University Pipers have been using the early surge this season to catapult themselves to a 2-0 record, but the tables turned for them on Saturday, as Carleton produced 14 first quarter points on their way to a 35-7 victory. The Knights scored the first 35 points of the game thanks in large part to five Pipers turnovers.
The Pipers defense dominated on the first possession, forcing Carleton to punt after just three plays. However, Triston Thomas struggled to gain possession of the punt at his own five. Ryan Flanagan fell on the loose ball, giving the Knights the ball deep inside Hamline territory. It looked like the defense would come up big once again, as they set up a fourth and goal at their own 2 yard line, but Jonathan Singleton scored on the next play to give Carleton a 7-0 lead.
Hamline struggled on their next possession, moving backwards as the team lost yards on two of the first three plays plus they had a holding call. On fourth and 31 at their own 14, Lucius Negrillo went back to punt, but the snap was bad. Negrillo scurried around the end zone trying to kick the ball away, and was able to get off a 13 yard punt that gave the Knights the ball at the Hamline 27. Three plays later, Singleton connected with Ntense Obono for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Knights a 14-0 lead.
On the fourth possession of the game for Hamline, quarterback Connor Leavens went back to pass on third one, but his pass attempt was intercepted by Jackson Cleveland at the Pipers 41. The defense stiffened for the Pipers, as they forced a third and 10, but Singleton found Bert Bean open over the middle for 41 yards and a score to make it a 21-0 Carleton lead.
On the next possession for the Pipers, Leavens led the team on an impressive drive that started from the Pipers 16 and moved to the Carleton 11. The Hamline quarterback had two big completions to convert third down situations and keep the chains moving. Unfortunately, on second and 7 at the Knights 11, Leavens pass was picked off by Travis Brown near the end zone and returned 55 yards to the Hamline 45. Five plays later, Singleton found Will Irons for a 28-yard touchdown to make it a 28-0 Carleton lead. That would be the score at the half.
With a little over five minutes left in the third quarter, the Knights extended their lead to 35. This came after the defense forced a turnover on downs at the Hamline 41. Singleton had three big pass completions on the drive to keep the chains moving, completing the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Nathaniel Streiff.
Hamline could have simply mailed it in from there, but the offense continued to battle, scoring on their next possession. Starting from their own 25, Alec Ralph got the drive going with back-to-back carries for 11 yards. Charlie Wilson then carried the ball for another 11 yards before Leavens connected with Ralph for a 13-yard completion down to the Carleton 25. From there it was all Ralph, as he carried the ball three consecutive times, scoring from 7 yards out to make it a 35-7 game.
There was still a little over 17 minutes left in the contest, but neither team could generate any additional offense. Both defenses played very well, as the contest ended with a 28-point Knights victory.
Leavens completed 23 of 38 passes for 200 yards and three interceptions. Thomas was his main target, making 10 catches for 67 yards. Ralph carried the ball 13 times for 61 yards and a score. The defense was led by Sam Fritz with 10 tackles. Godmar Gach had a solid day for the Pipers, recording five tackles, including 2.5 sacks.
Singleton completed 19 of 42 passes for 206 yards and four scores for Carleton. Aiden Chang carried the ball 16 times for 56 yards. The Knights defense recorded five sacks, led by Luis Miranda with 1.5.
The Hamline University Pipers look to regroup next week as they welcome St. Scholastica (0-1) for their first MIAC conference battle. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier