NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- In its final contest of the season, the Carleton College football team rattled off three consecutive scores and overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Augsburg College, 49-45. With the victory, the Knights (5-5, 3-5 MIAC) sealed their first five-win season since 2008 when the squad posted a 7-3 record and came within a win of the MIAC championship.
In their final game donning the maize and blue, seniors came up big for Carleton all afternoon. John Baker (Minneapolis, Minn./Breck) carried the ball 31 times for 98 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Wide receivers Anthony Kemper (Prior Lake, Minn./Prior Lake) and Chase Gottschalk (Independence, Minn./Orono) each surpassed 100 yards receiving on the day. Kemper reeled in seven catches for 131 yards and a score, while Gottschalk contributed six for 104 yards and two touchdowns, one receiving and one rushing. Quarterback Conor Lynch (Salem, Ore./South Salem) distributed the ball effectively, completing 18-of-34 passes for 309 yards and two scores.
After a scoreless first quarter, the two teams contributed to a flurry of scoring in the second, combining for six touchdowns. The Auggies (5-5, 3-5 MIAC) took a 28-14 lead into intermission. On its first possession following the break, Augsburg kept up the momentum, reaching the end zone on a three-yard rush by Jerise Washington.
Carleton was not ready to throw in the towel, however, as Lynch lofted a 51-yard pass to Kemper, moving the Knights inside the Augsburg five-yard line. Baker picked up his second rushing touchdown of the game, powering into the end zone from three yards out.
An Augsburg field goal later in the quarter ran the score to 38-21, but the Knights used a third touchdown from Baker on a two-yard dash to trim the deficit
For the second time in the game, the Auggies immediately responded to Carleton closing the gap with a special teams score. Hakeem Bourne-MacFarland returned the ensuing kickoff to the end zone, his second kick return touchdown of the day, seemingly putting the game out of reach.
Or did it.
The Carleton seniors would not go down easily, as Baker answered with his fourth score of the day to cap an 11-play drive, 63-yard drive. With just over seven minutes remaining in the contest, Augsburg still held a 45-34 advantage.
After forcing the Auggies to punt, the Knights executed a six-play, 70-yard drive to close within 45-42. Lynch completed all four of his passes on the drive for a total of 61 yards, and Gottschalk round the endzone for the second time on the day when he took a handoff on an end-around and dashed eight yards for the score.
The Carleton defense forced a three-and-out and handed the ball to the offense with 2:48 remaining on the clock. Only 35 seconds later, the Knights took their first lead of the contest when Kemper caught a pass from Lynch, found space, and outran the defense for a 33-yard score.
The Auggies moved into the red zone on their final possession of the game, but Jon Rowe (Sr./St. Cloud, Minn./Cathedral) recovered a fumble by Augsburg quarterback Ayrton Scott to seal the victory.
Kemper’s performance solidified his spot in the Carleton record books. He now ranks sixth in both career receptions and receiving yards, tallying 125 and 1,924, respectively. This season, he grabbed nine touchdown receptions, which is ties for fourth in recorded history.
The 309 passing yards from Lynch moved his season total to 2,122, which is good for fourth all-time. He also currently sits in 10th place for career passing yards, compiling 3,191 over his four years in Northfield.
Among the other Carleton seniors who capped their careers in style were tight end Brian Frett (Wilmette, Ill./New Trier) and defensive backs Nick Herringer (Vadnais Heights, Minn./White Bear Lake) and Josh Estes (Chicago, Ill./Walter Payton). Frett caught four passes for 67 yards, Herringer contributed eight tackles, and Estes broke up four passes.