NORTHFIELD, Minn. – For the 14 seniors on Carleton College football roster, Saturday represented their last game against cross-town rival St. Olaf College. It was also their final opportunity to stake claim to the famed Goat Trophy, having dropped the last three matchups. Behind career days from Conor Lynch (Sr./Salem, Ore./South Salem) and Anthony Kemper (Sr./Prior Lake, Minn./Prior Lake), the Knights erased a two-touchdown deficit and powered past the Oles, 42-37.
“We dug ourselves a bit of a hole, but we didn’t panic,” said Carleton head coach Bob Pagel. “We kept playing, and never doubted that good things could happen, and here we are at the end.”
Lynch and Kemper ensured that their final contest against St. Olaf would be one to remember. Lynch accounted for five total touchdowns, passing for three and rushing for the other two. In total, he completed 23-of-34 passes for a career-high 269 yards. Kemper reeled in 12 catches for 176 yards and three scores, all three career-best figures.
The Oles reached the end zone on their first possession of the contest, but the Knights responded less than two minutes later when Lynch connected with Kemper for an 84-yard touchdown. This was the longest Carleton play from scrimmage in recorded history of the cross-town series and the fifth-longest in the school record books.
Two more St. Olaf scores put them ahead, 21-7, but an acrobatic seven-yard catch by Kemper in the end zone brought the Knights within seven by the end of the first period.
Carleton’s defense forced a three-and-out, and the Knights found the endzone on the ensuing drive. A 38-yard scamper by Chris Madden (Fy./Kenosha, Wis./St. Joseph) helped setup a two-yard rushing score by Lynch, knotting the score.
After a St. Olaf field goal, senior John Baker (Minneapolis, Minn./Breck) capped an 11-play 78-yard drive with a two-yard plunge giving the visitors a 28-24 lead at intermission.
The Carleton offense continued to gel following the break, opening the third quarter with a 13-play, 73-yard drive for a score. Lynch picked up his second rushing touchdown of the day, making something out of nothing on a broken play and out-running the defense for a two-yard score that put the Knights ahead, 35-24.
After St. Olaf responded with a touchdown of its own, Lynch and Kemper hooked up for their third touchdown of the day, this time from 12 yards out. That play completed another sustained drive, this one totaling 70 yards on 10 plays.
The Oles got another touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but the Carleton defense came up with a pair of stops in the closing moments to seal the victory. Mitch Heflin (So./Wayzata, Minn./Wayzata) and Dan Cook (Jr./Inver Grove Heights, Minn./South St. Paul) combined on a fourth-down stop, and seniors Adan Nunez-Frausto (Phoenix, Ariz./Brophy College Prep) and Andrew Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y./Brooklyn, N.Y.) came up with huge sack to snuff out the Oles’ final drive.
Kemper’s 12-catch day moved him into ninth place in team history as he now has 106 career receptions. However, the Carleton ground game also contributed, finishing with 160 yards rushing—the team’s second-highest total of the season—and helping the Knights go 12-of-17 on third down
Heflin paced Carleton defenders with 15 tackles on the day followed by 12 for Mason Schnarr (Fy./Evansville, Ind./Francis J. Reitz) and 10 for senior safety Nick Herringer (Vadnais Heights, Minn./White Bear Lake).
Carleton returns to Laird Stadium next Saturday, Nov. 2, to face No. 22 Concordia College. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Live stats and video of the game will be available via Knights Online.