Rocafort, Wilson Ground Pipers Past Cougars
The Hamline University Pipers continue their impressive ground attack early in the 2022 season, as the team rushed for 252 yards and scored three touchdowns to help lead the Pipers to a 34-21 victory over the University of Minnesota-Morris. Nikolas Rocafort and Charlie Wilson led the way, as the two combine for 186 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
This was an exciting first quarter with each team producing a touchdown. Hamline got on the board with a little over six minutes left in the first frame. It started when Juan Bertaud intercepted a Marcus Reeb pass at the Hamline 30, returning it 15 yards before he was tackled. On the next play, Dorrayn Tapplin took the handoff and raised 27 yards before he was tackled. With the ball of 28, Alejandro Villanueva made a great pass toward the end zone where Ryder Hutton pulled in the ball to put the Pipers on top by seven.
Minnesota-Morris responded right away, moving 65 yards on nine plays to tie the score at seven. The Cougars were content to move the ball on the ground, using rushing plays on seven of the first eight plays. On first and 10 from the Hamline 15, Reeb connected with Dylan Naughton for a touchdown to even the score.
Morris took the lead early in the second, using a methodical drive that took nearly 5-½ minutes off the clock before they scored again. This time it was Reeb finding Ethan Tang for a 12-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
The Pipers were down, but responded with 27 unanswered points to take command of this contest. Hamline tied the score on their next possession, needing 16 plays to move 68 yards, burning 6:16 off the clock. Villanueva led the drive early, completing six straight passes for 41 yards. The Pipers then went to the ground, rushing the ball six straight times. That put the ball at the Minnesota-Morris 16, where Villanueva found Terrell Jones for an 11-yard strike on the next plane. With first and goal at the five, Villanueva kept the ball, rushing 5 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season.
The Cougars were forced to punt after just three plays on their next possession. The punt went just 19 yards, downed at the Minnesota-Morris 35. On the next play, Villanueva found Wilson streaking down the right side for a 35-yard touchdown strike to put the Pipers on top for good, 20-14.
On their first possession of the second half, Hamline found the end zone once again. This time it was Wilson taking the ball in the wildcat formation, running up the middle, finding a seam and then racing 56 yards to make it 27-14.
Just before the end of the third quarter, Hamline went on another long drive, moving 59 yards in 11 plays, taking 5:06 off the clock. Villanueva capped off the drive, racing outside before turning the corner and finding the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown run. That made it 34-14.
The Cougars added one more touchdown in the fourth quarter as Reeb found Cameron Whitney for a 1-yard touchdown pass over the middle to cut the deficit to 13. However, the Hamline defense clamped down from there, sealing the 13-point victory.
The Hamline offense put up 418 total yards, including 252 on the ground. Rocafort led the way, carrying the ball 20 times for 118 yards, his second straight 100+ yard performance to start the season. Wilson also had a big game, carrying the ball three times for 68 yards and had five catches for 71 yards. He scored two touchdowns. Villanueva was spectacular in his second college start, going 12-15 for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried the ball 15 times for 47 yards and two more scores.
The Pipers defense was led by Caleb Lueders, who made 12 tackles, forced a fumble, and had a pass breakup. Ryan Kouri and Bertaud each had an interception.
The Hamline Pipers (2-0) open up MIAC conference play next Saturday when they host the Carlton Knights (1-0). Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier