NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Down 31-23 with 5:15 left to play in the fourth quarter, the Carleton College football team engineered a triumphant comeback on Saturday afternoon as senior Brandt Davis kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Knights to a 34-31 victory over Hamline University.
"It was truly a great team win today for the Knights!" said Carleton head coach Bob Pagel. "Hats off to our players for executing when it counted the most. We made enough right plays at the right time at the end of the game to give ourselves a chance to win."
The annual Homecoming clash took place at Northfield High School as the playing surface at Carleton's Laird Stadium was damaged in flooding a week ago. However, the Knights (1-4, 1-2 MIAC) felt right at home and secured their first win of the season.
Quarterback Ethan Trujillo made his first career start for Carleton and finished the day 29-of-48 for 362 passing yards and two touchdown tosses as well as a fourth-quarter touchdown run. That is the 10th-most passing yards in recorded Carleton history and the most since Shane Henfling totaled 462 against Hamline on Nov. 1, 2008.
In the closely contested first half, Trujillo linked up with Zach Creighton for a red zone score, and running back Logan Emholtz pounded his way into the endzone from four yards out. Davis added a 36-yard field goal and the Knights led 16-14 with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Hamline (3-1, 1-1 MIAC) regained the lead when quarterback Justice Spriggs ran in from 11 yards out to cap a quick five-play, 78-yard touchdown drive shortly before halftime.
The Pipers widened their lead to 28-16 with a touchdown midway through the third quarter, but marching downfield in just under two minutes, the Knights answered right back, making their way into the end zone with a Trujillo pass to Mack Journell. A crucial 23-yard reception on third down by Dane Birkeland kept alive the drive that was capped by the three-yard touchdown pass on fourth down.
Neither team could get much going on offense to start the fourth stanza, but Hamline's Kyle Johnson drilled a field goal with 8:01 remaining to make the score 31-23.
After the two sides traded possession, Trujillo found Birkeland on a critical third-and-10 for a 17-yard advance into Hamline territory. Big connections with Creighton and Journell set the stage for Trujillo to take it into the end zone himself, plowing his way into the endzone from 10 yards out. The Knights went for two and the call paid off, as Trujillo found Journell to tie the game at 31-31 with 3:18 remaining.
The Carleton defense came up big, forcing a three-and-out to put the ball in Trujillo's hands with 2:33 left.
On third-and-10, Trujillo connected once again with Creighton to move the chains, then rushed for a first down of his own to put the Knights on the edge of the red zone. A few running plays took almost all the remaining time off the clock, and the Knights put their trust in Davis to close it out on the last play of the game. He drilled his MIAC-best seventh field goal of the season, and Carleton had a Homecoming victory to celebrate.
Journell accounted for 114 receiving yards on eight catches, while Creighton hauled in 10 passes for 101 yards. Birkeland totaled 85 yards on four receptions, with each earning Carleton a first down. Emholtz led the ground game with 22 carries for 62 yards and a score.
Dylan Saline totaled nine tackles to lead the Carleton defense. He also had two pass breakups, including running down a receiver behind the defense to knock away a third-down pass immediately prior to the game-winning drive.
The Knight defense kept Pipers quarterback Justice Spriggs in check. While he did finish with 269 yards and a touchdown, but that was far short of his 475-yard, six-touchdown performance the week before.
The Knights will look to build on Saturday's result when they host Bethel University(1-4, 1-2 in MIAC) next Saturday at 1 p.m.