BELOIT, Wis. – Grinnell College's football team saved its best for last.
The Pioneers rolled up a season-high 481 yards of total offense as they toppled Beloit College 41-31 in the season finale for both teams Saturday afternoon, snapping a 24-game losing streak to Midwest Conference opponents dating back to the final game of 2015.
The Pioneers, who defeated Beloit for the first time since 2013, finished the season with a 2-8 mark while the Buccaneers wound up 1-9. Daniel Carter '22 scored four touchdowns and had 24 points, both the second-best marks in program history. Dustin Saia's '22 301 all-purpose yards are the fourth-most at Grinnell, and Sal Kargbo's '22 two interceptions rank fourth. As a team Grinnell had eight pass breakups, fourth-best in program history.
Saia had 145 rushing yards and Carter added 101 on the ground, while Jake Kaplinski '22 passed for 230 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. Saia caught four passes for 91 yards, Hill added three catches for 58 yards and Carter had a season-high 64 reception yards.
Ryan Slager '19 led all tacklers with 12 to finish with the second-most unassisted tackles for a season in program history with 87. His 158 total tackles ranked third and 71 assisted tackles were ninth.
Slager entered the game as Grinnell's career lead in all three tackles categories and added to those totals, finishing his time in a Pioneer uniform with 605 total tackles, 271 solos and 334 assisted stops. He also finished as the career leader for fumble recoveries with eight.
Grinnell took the opening kickoff and went to work right away, scoring on its third play with a 60-yard TD pass from Kaplinski to Saia. Patrick Goldammer's '22 kick made it 7-0 with 14:04 left.
After Beloit scored, Grinnell again struck quickly by scoring on the fourth play of its drive with a 37-yard run by Carter. The play, which was set up by Kargbo's 38-yard kickoff return, was followed with a missed extra point return by Beloit to make it 13-9 with 6:26 left in the quarter.
Grinnell had another quick strike in the second period, as Kargbo intercepted a Beloit pass and three plays later Carter rushed in from 2 yards out. Goldammer's kick made it 20-9 with 3:25 left.
However, the hosts added two scores in the waning minutes to take a 24-20 lead into the locker room.
Grinnell exploded in the third period with two scores, the first coming when Jeff Keele '19 blocked a punt and Saia returned it 33 yards for a touchdown with 5:18 left. Goldammer's kick made it 27-24, a lead Grinnell would never relinquish.
The Pioneers scored in just two plays on its next drive, with Kaplinski finding Carter on a 50-yard TD strike. Goldammer's kick made it 34-24 with 3:16 left in the period. Grinnell got some insurance in the fourth quarter when Kaplinski hit Carter with a 14-yard TD pass with 10:28 left. Goldammer kicked the extra point. After Beloit scored to make it a 10-point gap, Grinnell milked the clock with a six-plus minute drive to secure the win.
Besides Slager's career records, he also finished fourth in fumble return yards with 40. Hassan Thompson '19 had two blocked kicks in his career, third-best at Grinnell, while Max Hill '20 is ninth in both kick returns and kick return yardage with 49 and 827, respectively.
On the season all-time chart, Kargbo finished eighth in passes defended with eight and Keele ninth in tackles for loss and tackles for loss yards with 15 and 67.
As a team, Grinnell finished with a 13.8-yard per punt return average which ranks fourth all-time. The Pioneers' 147 yards from sacks ranks ninth and the 21.5 sacks are 10th.