NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- The Carleton College football team failed to capture the “Goat Trophy” on Saturday, absorbing a 27-20 setback at the hand of rival St. Olaf College. Quarterback Mike Hartwell (Sr./Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North) completed 25-of-35 passes for a career-high 264 yards and two touchdowns, and receiver C.J. Dale (Sr./Fox Island, Wash./Charles Wright Academy) reeled in a career-high nine receptions for 130 yards and a score, but the Knights (3-4, 1-4 MIAC) couldn’t keep pace with the Oles (6-2, 4-2 MIAC) and fell below the .500 mark for the first time this season.
Defensively, the Knights were led by safety Mike Elder (Sr./San Antonio, Texas/Central Catholic) and cornerback Paul Hoffer (Sr./Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata). Elder, who entered the game as the reigning MIAC defensive player-of-the-week and the conference leader in total tackles, added eight more stops and a fumble recovery. Hoffer also contributed eight tackles, as well as recording 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
St. Olaf got on the board first when quarterback Dan Dobson hit Michael Thai for a 4-yard touchdown strike midway through the opening quarter. This score capped a six-play, 80-yard drive.
It took only 26 seconds for the Knights to respond, as Hartwell hit Dale on a deep crossing route for a 53-yard touchdown, Dale’s third of the year.
As the clock wound down in the first quarter, St. Olaf faced 3rd-and-15 in Carleton territory. Dobson tossed a screen pass to Thai, who scampered for a 54-yard gain. After a three-yard rush by Dobson, Thai plunged into the end zone from a yard out on the opening play of the second period.
The Oles extended their lead late in the half when Lucas Wainman converted a 21-yard field goal. The teams entered their respective locker rooms with the score 17-7 in favor of St. Olaf.
On the Oles’ first drive of the second half, Dobson connected with receiver Jake Schmiesing for a 57-yard score. Wainman added a field goal late in the quarter to push the score to 27-7 in favor of the Oles.
The Knights were not ready to let the Goat go without a fight. The offense responded on its next drive, marching 75 yards to the end zone. Hartwell picked up his second touchdown pass of the contest, this time hitting tight end Brian Frett (Jr./Wilmette, Ill./New Trier) for a three-yard score.
After forcing the Oles to punt, Carleton manufactured another strong drive, moving 79 yards in just under five minutes. The drive was capped by running back Andy Zweber’s (Sr./Elko, Minn./New Prague) sixth touchdown of the season, bringing the Knights within a touchdown of St. Olaf at 27-20.
With only 1:19 remaining in the game, the Knights were forced to attempt an onside kick. First-year A.J. Van Zoeren’s (Kalamazoo, Mich./Portage Central) kick bounced around near midfield, but the Oles came out of the pile with the ball and ran out the clock.
Carleton travels to Moorhead next weekend to face Concordia College. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. The Knights return home on November 3 to face Gustavus Adolphus College. A live broadcast—including a high-definition video stream—will be available via Knights Online.