Running back Jon Lien finished his career with 2,390 rushing yards, third-most all-time at Carleton
(photo by Tom Dahlin)
NORTHFIELD, Minn. – On senior day at Laird Stadium, running back Jon Lien (Sr./Lindstrom, Minn./Chisago Lakes) moved into third place on the Carleton College career-rushing list, but the Knights suffered from multiple missed opportunities, as they dropped their final game of the season to Gustavus Adolphus College by a score of 21-7. The Knights’ lone score came on an 18-yard interception return by Jordan Soteros (So./Scottsdale, Ariz./Pinnacle) late in the third quarter.
This game marked the end of the college careers for the 13 Carleton seniors, who finished with a 15-25 record overall. Their four years donning the maize and blue were filled with memorable moments, including a storybook 7-3 season in 2008 and the 2010 flooding of the Cannon River which forced the Knights away from Laird Stadium for the majority of the season.
The Knights (2-8, 1-7 MIAC) mustered only 141 yards of total offense on the day with 124 of those coming on the ground. Lien carried the ball 20 times for 50 yards, and John Baker (So./Minneapolis, Minn./Breck) rushed seven times for 44 yards, averaging over six yards per carry.
With a five-yard rush midway through the first quarter, Lien passed Al Schmucker on Carleton’s all-time rushing list, tallying the third-highest total in school history. Lien finished his career as a Knight with 2,390 yards on the ground.
Carleton appeared to be gaining momentum following Lien’s record-breaking carry, as they drove to the Gustavus’ 16-yard line. However, Eric Murphy’s (Sr./Stillwater, Okla./Stillwater) 33-yard field goal attempt into a stiff wind sailed wide right, and the Knights failed to get on the board first.
Gustavus threatened early in the second quarter, driving to the Carleton 18-yard line. Paul Hoffer (Jr./Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata) came up with his first of two blocked field goals to keep the game scoreless.
Late in the first half, after a number of strong defensive stands by both sides, Gustavus (2-8, 2-6 MIAC) broke through and scored the first touchdown of the game. The Carleton defense forced the Gusties to punt with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, but the punt took an erratic bounce and hit a Carleton player’s leg and was then recovered by Gustavus. On the very next play, quarterback Logan Becker hit Andre Creighton for a 35-yard score, and the Gusties carried a 7-0 lead into intermission.
Gustavus added to their lead on the first drive of the second half, as Becker’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Turner Johnson capped an eight-play, 71-yard drive.
On the next drive, the Knights dug deep into the playbook on fourth-and-goal with a designed lateral to senior offensive lineman Tanner Martin (Tempe, Ariz./Brophy). Quarterback Danny Shields (So./Richfield, Minn./Academy of Holy Angels) rolled to his right and threw back across the field to center Martin, who missed reaching the end zone by only inches.
Later in the third quarter, the Knights finally got on the board with the “pick six” by Soteros. This was his fourth interception of the season and the second he returned for a score.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hoffer, who also led the team with 10 tackles, blocked another field goal, and the ball bounced toward midfield. The Knights were unable to pick it up on the run and instead were forced to cover the ball at the 50 yard-line. Had Carleton picked the ball up cleanly, there would have been a chance to return it for a score.
After a three-and-out for the Knights on the following drive, Gustavus sealed the game with a 27-yard rushing touchdown by Jeffrey Dubose.
Carleton finishes the 2011 season with a 2-8 record overall and a 1-7 record in MIAC play. The Knights will open next season on the road at Grinnell College on September 1, 2012.