NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- The Carleton College football team kept their undefeated season alive today, topping the Hamline University Pipers, 21-14, in the MIAC opener for both teams. After falling behind early, the Knights (2-0, 1-0 MIAC) rallied past the Pipers with three unanswered scores. Quarterback Conor Lynch (Jr./Salem, Ore./South Salem) led the Knights both through the air and on the ground. He completed 15 of 20 passes for 158 yards and connected on the first two touchdown passes of his career. He also carried the ball 14 times for 55 yards.
Bob Pagel became the seventh Carleton head football coach overall—and the second since 1940—to lead the team to victory in his first two games at the helm of the program. “For the second straight game we got ourselves in a hole early and had to work our way back out,” said Pagel. “The guys kept believing and didn’t panic. We kept working hard, made some adjustments, had some great opportunities, and were able to capitalize.”
While the Knights started slowly, the Pipers (1-1, 0-1 MIAC) raced to a 14-0 lead with 3:43 remaining in the first quarter. Running back Austin Duncan capped off Hamline’s first drive of the contest with a 16-yard touchdown run. After a three-and-out by the Knights, the Pipers struck again when quarterback Kevin Ackerley fired a 31-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Ferkinhoff to put Hamline ahead by two scores.
The Knights responded quickly, executing a 10-play, 70-yard drive to pull within a touchdown. Facing fourth-and-long at the Hamline 37-yard line, Lynch lofted a 29-yard pass to Chase Gottschalk (Jr./Independence, Minn./Orono) to move the chains. Three plays later, the Knights capitalized when Lynch hooked up with C.J. Dale (Sr./Fox Island, Wash./Charles Wright Academy) for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
Carleton struck again the next time the offense hit the field, driving 68 yards to the end zone. Lynch picked up his second touchdown of the game, this time connecting with Jordan Butler (Sr./El Mirage, Ariz./Dysart) for an eight-yard score. However, a missed PAT left the Knights trailing, 14-13, at the end of the first half.
To start the third quarter, a 33-yard kickoff return by Anthony Kemper (Sr./Prior Lake, Minn./Prior Lake) gave Carleton great field position near midfield. The Knights capitalized, going 52 yards in 11 plays to take the lead. Fullback Andy Zweber (Sr./Elko, Minn./New Prague) rushed two yards for a score, tallying his fourth touchdown of the year, and a successful two-point conversion attempt put the Knights ahead, 21-14.
The defense came up big over the duration of the contest to keep Carleton in the lead. On Hamline’s next drive, the Knights forced a fumble, and Mike Elder (Sr./San Antonio, Texas/Central Catholic) recovered, stopping the Pipers just as they appeared to be gaining momentum. In the fourth quarter, defensive back C.J. James (Jr./Decatur, Ga./Holy Innocents) intercepted an Ackerley pass at the Knights’ three-yard line, turning the Pipers away from a promising scoring chance.
That was the closest the Pipers came to reaching the end zone. On their final drive of the game, an illegal forward pass on fourth down gave Carleton the ball back with only 17 seconds remaining, allowing the Knights to utilize their victory formation.
The Knights travel to Arden Hills, Minn. next weekend to face No. 12 Bethel, then they return to Laird Stadium to face No. 6 University of St. Thomas on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1:10 p.m. Live audio of both games will be available on Knights Online with Gordy Kosfeld calling the action on KQCL 95.9 FM in the Northfield/Faribault area.