Pipers Rally Falls Short at Carleton, 31-27
NORTHFIELD, MN – The Hamline University Pipers were able to reach the Carleton College 15-yard line with seconds left in the game, but could not find the end zone as they fell to the Knights, 31-27. That spoiled another impressive game for Alejandra Villanueva, who threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Charlie Wilson continues his assault on the Hamline record book, making 12 catches for 216 yards and four TDs.
Hamline received the opening kickoff, but were forced to punt after just three plays. That gave Carleton their first possession of the contest, starting from their own 21, and they made the most of it, moving 79 yards in eight plays before they took a 7-0 lead. It was a 32-yard strike from quarterback Jack Curtis to Tyler Dimond that put the ball at the Hamline 11. Three plays later, Dimond carried the ball off tackle for 5 yards and the score.
The Pipers responded immediately, cutting the deficit to one. The team faced a third and 3 to start the drive, but Villanueva found Wilson for 27 yards and a first down at the Knights 45. The team continued to methodically move down the field, but looked like the drive would stall at the 25 when they faced fourth and 6. Villanueva went back to pass, finding Wilson down the middle of the field for a 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-6.
In the second quarter, Carleton began to pull away, outscoring Hamline, 10-0. The Knights made it an eight-point lead when Curtis found Ntense Obono for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The quarterback completed all five of his pass attempts on the drive, totaling 73 yards.
With a little over two minutes left in the half, Carleton was able to move to the Hamline 8-yard line. It was an impressive 11 play drive when Sam Chutkow intercepted a Villanueva pass at the Hamline 41, returning it 6 yards to the 35. An unnecessary roughness penalty moved the ball back to midfield where the Knights went to work. The team slowly moved down the field until reaching the eight when Marcus Merkelbach kicked a 24-yard field goal to make it 17-6. That was the score at the half.
The Pipers looked like they were in serious trouble, but the defense made a big stop to begin the second half, giving the offense the ball at their own 8-yard line. Villanueva was unfazed by the field position, moving his team 92 yards in 11 plays before they scored 6:13 later. It was an impressive drive that saw the sophomore quarterback gain 28 yards on a scramble play. Three plays later, Malik Wynn put together a 27 yard run down to the Carleton 18 yard line. On third and goal at the five, Villanueva found Wilson for the third touchdown of the day for both players.
The defense forced Carleton to punt on their next possession, putting the ball back in the hands of their star quarterback. The first two plays gained just three total yards, setting up third and seven at their own 25-yard line. That is when Villanueva went down the sidelines for Wilson, who hauled the ball in and raced the remaining distance for the 75-yard touchdown, putting Hamline on top, 20-17.
The Knights were forced to punt on their next possession, but a beautiful kick by Merkelbach put the ball at the Hamline 1 yard line. The Pipers could not move the ball at all, forced to punt, giving Carleton the ball at the Hamline 41. This time Carleton would not be denied, scoring four plays later when Curtis found Nathan Streiff for 20 yards and a score. That made it 24-20.
The Pipers began their next drive at the end of the third quarter, and were able to punch it home eight plays later to retake the lead, 27-24. Villanueva had a huge third-down conversion when he raced to his right for 10 yards to give his team a fresh set of downs. On the eighth play of the drive, Villanueva found Wilson for the fourth touchdown of the day.
It looked like Hamline would hang on for the three-point victory, but Carleton was able to put together one final drive to retake the lead. Starting from their own 45 with 3:48 left in the contest, Curtis led his team on a seven play, 55-yard drive that was capped off when Antonio Berrera scored from 1 yard out.
Trailing by four, Hamline needed a touchdown, and had 1:52 left on the clock. The team needed to go 78 yards, and were able to move to the Carleton 15 where they faced a second down with seconds left in the contest. Alec Ralph took the ball, looking to find Wilson in the end zone, but Josiah Tusler was able to break up the pass attempt to save the victory for the Knights.
Villanueva finished 24 of 40 for 348 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball 12 times for 41 yards. Wynn had 20 carries for 67 yards. Wilson finished with 12 catches for 216 yards and four TDs. It was his second straight week with four touchdown receptions and he now has 10 on the season.
Jevon Jones led the team in tackles with 13. Croix Zacharias had 10 tackles.
The Hamline University Pipers (2-1) will take on St. Olaf University next Saturday in St. Paul. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier