NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- It was a happy Homecoming at Laird Stadium. Christian Zaytoun matched the school record with six touchdown passes as the Carleton College football team rallied for a 42-26 victory over Hamline University. The Knights trailed 20-7 midway through the second quarter before scoring 35 unanswered points en route to the win.
"I think as a team, that is the best we played all season," said Carleton head coach Tom Journell. "We put all phases together: offense, defense, kicking."
Hamline (0-6, 0-4 MIAC) looked in control early, racing out to a 20-7 lead midway through the second quarter. In building that advantage, Hamline reached third down 11 times and converted 10 of them. Six of those conversions came on third down with four more on fourth down. The Pipers opened the game with a 14-play drive that finally stalled out at the Carleton 26-yard line when a receiver dropped a pass, but Hamline reached the end zone on its next three possessions. The first via a one-yard run by quarterback Justice Spriggs, then by touchdown passes of 11 and six yards by Spriggs to Tanner Lunceford and Zander Payne, respectively.
"We had to weather the beginning. Hamline was really executing at a high level on third and fourth down. We couldn't get off the field," said Tom Journell. "We just relaxed, settled down, and were able to get back on track."
Carleton responded with a nine-play, 62-yard drive capped by a 13-yard scoring toss from Zaytoun to Jay Bowers. The Knights defense forced a three-and-out, and Carleton then marched 71 yards on eight plays, finding the end zone on an 18-yard pass from Zaytoun to Beau Nelson. That permitted Carleton to carry a 21-20 lead into the break.
The second-half kickoff when out of bounds, and the Knights took advantage of the short field to go 65 yards on eight plays. Emanual Williams broke a tackle and raced 25-yards for the touchdown to cap the drive.
Another three-and-out for the Carleton defense, led to good field position once again. This time Mack Journell hauled in a Zaytoun pass. Utilizing a trio of downfield blocks, he went untouched into the end zone from 15 yards out.
Carleton recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return, and the Knights cashed in the turnover for their fifth consecutive scoring drive. This time Zaytoun and Mack Journell hooked up on a back-shoulder fade for their third touchdown connection of the day.
Zaytoun finished the afternoon 25-of-33 for 243 passing yards and six touchdown passes, which equaled the team record established by John Nielson in 1990.
Zaytoun, who also has a five-touchdown game this season, is already tied with Ted Kluender for fourth on Carleton's single-season list with 19 touchdown passes this year. His 32 career touchdown tosses tie him with Tim Nielsen for fifth in team history. Zaytoun leads the MIAC in passing yards (1,556) and touchdown passes
Mack Journell was the top target in the passing game once again, hauling in 10 passes for 125 yards and the three touchdowns. He surpassed the 100-yard mark for the third time this season, and the three scores matched his career best. His 54 receptions this year are tied for 13th on the school's single-season list.
Sean Goodman Jr. gave the Knights offensive balance, as he accumulated a career-high 158 yards rushing. This is the first 100-yard game for a Carleton running back since Williams totaled 172 rushing yards against St. Olaf on Oct. 21, 2017.
"I'm proud of the coaches and how they prepared us today," said Tom Journell. "We ran the football well today. We were more balanced from a run-pass standpoint. A lot of great individual performances. The ability to run the football really opened up the pass."
After struggling to stop Hamline early, the Carleton defense became a brick wall over the middle portion of the contest. Following the three early Piper touchdowns, the Knights yielded only one first down over the next six Hamline offensive series. The visitors finally registered a first down with less than six minutes remaining in the contest.
Joe Lewis led the Carleton defensive effort with nine tackles—including two tackles for loss—an interception, and a half sack.
With the score reading 42-20, Spriggs found Triston Thomas for a 26-yard touchdown as time expired, but that score meant little for the Knights, who were able to celebrate a decisive Homecoming victory in front of boisterous crowd.
Carleton travels to Augsburg University next Saturday, Oct. 13 for a 1 p.m. kickoff. Live audio will be available via Power 96 (KQCL 95.9 FM) in the Northfield/Faribault area and worldwide via Knights Online.