Time of Poss.
On paper, the Bethel-Hamline football season finale figured to be a dogfight. It was, too -- just not the kind of game many thought would happen.
Two high powered offenses ran into some tough defensive play with the Royals holding off the Pipers for a 17-14 decision at Klas Field Saturday.
Jonny Nguyen (pictured) and Zach Schwalbach -- two of 16 seniors honored before the game -- had huge days on defense with each taking part in 16 tackles. Schwalbach added a a pair of pass breakups and Nguyen had a breakup and a hurry as the Pipers out gained the Royals by a slight 359-349 margin.
HU had some great offensive moments as well. Justice Spriggs, the sophomore who leads the MIAC in nearly offensive category available to a quarterback, threw for 331 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His St. Anthony prep teammate Nick Kampa corralled both scores and caught a game high 10 passes for 73 yards.
Hamline trailed 6-0 in the second quarter when Spriggs and Kampa connected for a seven yard scored to cap a 79 yard drive. Kale Wurdeman's extra point made it 7-6. BU scored and connected on a two-point conversion to take a 14-7 edge that lasted well into the fourth quarter. A field goal with 2:30 left made it 17-7 but the Pipers weren't giving in yet. They marched 73 yards in 10 plays in 103 seconds with the Spriggs-Kampa pairing clicking again. Wurdeman's PAT made it 17-14. Unfortunately, the onside kick was covered by the Royals and that was that.
Hamline ends the season with a .500 overall record at 5-5 -- their best output since 1997. They stand 3-5 in the MIAC.
Spriggs, who set six school records in 2016, finished the season with 2,711 yards passing and 25 scoring strikes --- easily the top regular season numbers in the MIAC. DE Mitchell Maday, a sophomore, ended up tops in the circuit in Tackles For Loss (14.5) and Sacks (10.5). Other Pipers on the leader boards include Kampa (second in Touchdowns with 10 and Receptions with 56 and third in Receiving Yards at 770 and Yards Per Game with 77.0); Josiah Harris (fourth in TDs with nine and points with 68); Nguyen (first in solo tackles with 54 and tied with Schwalbach for fifth in tackles per game with 8.5. Schwalbach's eight breakups also ranked second); and punter Kyle Johnson (third at 37.2 yards per kick).
All things considered, a good year for first year head coach Chip Taylor and his staff.
16 graduate but roughly 60 return. The Pipers are scheduled to open the 2017 season September 2 at Crown.