Pipers Ground Way Past Saints, 33-26
DULUTH, MN – The Hamline University Pipers used an impressive ground game, rushing for over 250 yards to help lead the team to a 33-26 victory over the College of St. Scholastica on Saturday. Malik Wynn led the way, rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns and Gilbert Guerra added 75 more. Quarterback Alejandro Villanueva had a solid day, throwing for two touchdowns and combining for 181 total yards of offense.
Hamline took control of this game from the start, scoring 13 unanswered points to start the contest. The Pipers got going right away, taking the opening kickoff and going 65 yards in sixth place to take a 6-0 lead. Villanueva led the drive, completing passes to Charlie Wilson and Alec Ralph plus rushing for six additional yards. He moved his team to the St. Scholastica 24 where the team faced a third and five. That is when Villanueva found Wilson down the left side line for a 24-yard touchdown to make it 6-0.
The Saints were forced to punt on their first drive of the game, and turned the ball over on the second when Juan Bertaud intercepted a Donald West pass, putting the ball at midfield. The drive looked like it would stall for the Pipers when they faced fourth and three at the St. Scholastica 14, but Villanueva found Eric Pfenning-Wendt for a 4-yard completion and a first down. Wynn then took the ball on the next play, bouncing outside before racing 10 yards to make it 13-0.
The Saints were unable to provide any kind of sustained drive through their first three possessions, but cut the deficit to seven with 7:27 left in the first half. Starting from their own 23, the team needed 12 plays before West found Nick Schlender for a 27-yard touchdown to make it 13-6.
Hamline responded, going 74 yards in 11 plays to extend the lead to 14. The team took a methodical approach, converting two third-down plays. After Guerra had a big 27-yard run that put the ball at the St. Scholastica 1 yard line, Wynn plunged through the line to make it 20-6.
There was just over one minute left in the half, but the Saints were able to put together an impressive drive to cut the deficit to seven at the break. West completed five passes on the drive and Schlender scored from 1 yard out.
St. Scholastica came out of the locker room and quickly moved 40 yards in four plays to knot the game at 20. A 38-yard kick return by Andrew Burgess gave his team the ball at the Hamline 40. Four plays later, Schlender raced up the middle for a 19-yard touchdown and suddenly the Pipers looked like they were in a bit of trouble.
However, the defense clamped down and the offense took over, responding with 13 unanswered points. Welch Durham put his team back on top when he connected on a 28-yard field goal to make it 23-20.
The Saints were forced to punt on their next possession, and got off just a 15-yard kick, giving the Pipers the ball at the St. Scholastica 22. Hamline kept the ball on the ground through the first four plays, then Villanueva found Wilson for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 30-20.
St. Scholastica was undaunted, putting together an impressive drive that moved to the Hamline 21. That is when the Pipers defense stepped up, as Dominic Sandoval intercepted a West pass, returning it to his own 28.
Hamline went the other way, burning 6:01 off the clock. The team went 69 yards in 11 plays before Welch connected on a 30-yard field goal to make it 33-20.
With 38 seconds left in the contest St. Scholastica cut the deficit to seven on a 27-yard touchdown from West to Schlender. However, the onside kick failed and Hamline was able to run out the remaining 38 seconds to seal the victory.
Villanueva finished 16 of 25 passing for 107 yards and two scores. He also had 13 carries for 74 yards. Wynn had 19 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns and Guerra carried the ball 14 times for 75 yards. Wilson had seven catches for 57 yards and two TDs. The defense was led by Noah Hickman who had nine tackles. Elijah Gingras had eight tackles, including a sack.
The Hamline University Pipers (4-5, 2-5) will welcome St. Olaf (4-5, 3-4) next Saturday to close out the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
by Robert Pannier