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MIAC Football Week Three: Auggies, Knights Join Tie at Top; Royals Down SJU
By Rich Mies, CSN Mapping the MIAC Columnist
Fans of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference take pride in the conference’s balance and unpredictability. Week Three’s results bore witness to this competiveness, as Augsburg and Carleton, both of which have spent much of the past decade near the bottom of the heap, emerged tied with Concordia for the league lead. The Auggies rallied from a 14-2 hole to post a 24-21 win over Hamline, while the Knights avenged last year’s embarrassment and thumped St. Olaf 21-7. Resurgent St. Thomas toppled Gustavus 30-22, while defending champ Bethel held off Saint John’s 14-9.
Next week, the top four teams square off, as St. Thomas travels to Concordia and Carleton hosts Augsburg. Saint John’s hosts Hamline, while St. Olaf is at Bethel. Gustavus will step out of the league, traveling to Tacoma, WA to tangle with Pacific Lutheran.
BETHEL 14 SAINT JOHN’S 9
The Royals, behind a rejuvenated defense and an opportunistic offense, held off a frantic final minute rally to nip the Johnnies 14-9 in front of over 5,000 sun-drenched fans. The win, the Royals first in the MIAC this season, gave Bethel a three-game win streak in the rivalry. Saint John’s had not been beaten three consecutive years in league play since St. Olaf turned the trick in 1984-86.
For the past decade, the Johnnies and Royals have had a near-monopoly on the MIAC championship, winning or sharing all but one of the past ten league titles. In the process, their battles have created one of the Upper Midwest’s best college football rivalries at any level. While both teams have gotten off to starts less auspicious than their partisans have come to expect, their meeting on the field promised to be an exciting battle.
SJU dominated the game’s offensive stats, compiling 359 yards in total offense to Bethel’s 164, and ran 85 plays to the Royals’ 62. However, Bethel was more proficient in the red zone, turning both of its deep drives into touchdowns, while the Jays could only muster one TD and a field goal out of five tries inside the Bethel 20.
However, the Royals’ defense stopped the Johnnies on fourth-and-inches midway through the first quarter and held off a frantic rally in the final 1:43, stymieing SJU at the two-yard line to seal the win. Among the keys to that defensive effort was an interception in the end zone by Nate Holm, denying SJU a touchdown. (Hear Holm discuss that play and the defensive effort here)
Bethel defense gave notice early on that they were going to be a factor in the outcome of the game. On SJU’s second drive of the game, Tim Cornish in front of the intended receiver and picked off a Jordan Hanzel pass at the SJU 27. He returned the ball to the Johnnie 23, setting the offense up with a short field. (Hear Cornish analyze the game here)
The Royals wasted little time punching into the end zone. Five plays later, freshman quarterback Josh Aakre, in his first collegiate start, rolled through a huge hole that the offensive line opened up on the right side and scampered into the end zone, giving BU a 7-0 lead. The freshman played with the poise of a grizzled vet, leading the offense in an error-free performance. (Listen to Aakre discuss the game here)
On the following drive, SJU got down as close to the goal line as is possible without scoring. On fourth-and-inches, the Royal defense stuffed a run play, getting Aakre and the offense the ball back preserving the 7-0 lead.
That lead held up until midway through the second quarter, when Saint John’s mounted its longest drive of the day. The ten-play drive pushed to the Bethel 12, but the Royals defense dug in and SJU had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Russell Gliadon, trimming the margin to 7-3.
Bethel took the opening kick of the second half and put together a 16-play drive that consumed 7:09 off the clock. The drive was spearheaded by the play of Logan Flannery, who carried nine times on the drive including the final snap. On that play, the line opened a large hole on the right side, Flannery zipped untouched into the end zone from two yards out, and Bethel led 14-3. (Listen to Flannery’s comments on the game here)
But Saint John’s did not become the powerhouse they have by giving up. The Johnnies marched downfield on their next possession but Holm picked off an errant pass in the end zone to stifle that threat. The Johnnie defense held firm, forcing the Royals to punt. The snap sailed over the punter’s head. He chased the ball down at the BU three and was tackled there, giving SJU excellent field position. Hansel dove over the line on the first snap for a touchdown, pulling the Johnnies within five, 14-9. SJU opted to go for the two-point conversion, but the snap was fumbled and the attempt failed.
The Johnnies had one final chance. Taking over at their own 29 with no timeouts remaining and only 1:43 left on the clock, they went into blitzkrieg mode. A ten play drive, highlighted by a 25-yard Hansel-to-Bryan Busack pass, got them to the BU 2 before the clock ran out, ending the drive and the game.
Hansel connected on 28-of-53 passes for 256 yards to lead the Johnnie offense. He was sacked twice and threw a pair of interceptions. Ben Vanderheyden led the receiving corps with 10 catches for 149 yards. (Hear Vanderheyden talk about the game here) Kellen Blaser, who carried seven times for 49 yards, led the Johnnie ground attack.
Flannery paced the Bethel offense, rushing for 89 yards on 29 carries. Aakre added 50 yards on the ground and completed 7-of-13 passes for 63 yards.
The victory marked the fifth time Bethel has beaten Saint John’s in the 30 meetings between the two schools. All five wins have come in Coach Steve Johnson’s tenure. Afterward, an ecstatic Johnson was mingling with players, parents, alumni and other well-wishers. He was quick to note, “One of my favorite things about Saint John’s is that they force you to be good, fundamentally.” (Hear Johnson analyze the game here)
With the win, Bethel improves to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in MIAC play. The loss drops Saint John’s to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in league action. The Royals host St. Olaf next week, while the Johnnies hope to regroup at home, playing Hamline.
CARLETON 21 ST. OLAF 7
In front of a crowd of over 6,500, the Knights avenged last year’s 63-point shellacking, and ruined the Oles Homecoming with a 21-7 win, giving them a share in a three-way tie for the MIAC lead. The win also brought home the traveling Goat Trophy in the 86th meeting for supremacy in Northfield. The Goat had resided at St. Olaf since 1996.
Carleton staked out a 21-0 lead behind three touchdown passes by Shane Henfling, who moved into fourth place in the school’s all-time list with 34 career TD passes. He finished the day 25-for-32 with 262 yards. Matt Frank was on the receiving end of 11 of those passes for 131 yards. It was his eighth 100-yard receiving game and he know ranks fourth among Carleton’s all-time leading receivers with 2,195 career yards.
After the defense recovered an Ole fumble at the midfield stripe early in the first quarter, Henfling needed only six plays to put the Knights on the scoreboard as he capped the drive with a three-yard toss to Frank. He connected with Steve Ramey from 14 yards out early in the second quarter and then teamed up with Frank for a 49-yard bomb midway through the second quarter.
Late in the third quarter, St. Olaf used two direct snaps to Leon Clark for rushes totaling 80 yards, including a 23-yard scoring scamper, to trim the gap to 21-7.
The Carleton defense dug in after that, holding the Oles on their final five drives of the game. The Knights forced St. Olaf to turn it over on downs on four of those final five drives. For the game, the Oles were a combined 3-for-19 on third and fourth down conversions.
Clark led the attack for St. Olaf with 85 yards rushing. Coty Watkins 68 yards on the ground. Jon Haberman completed 9-of-15 passes for 97 yards.
With the win, Carleton improves to 4-0, their best start since their 1992 MIAC championship season. The Knights host co-leader Augsburg next in Carleton’s Homecoming. “[This is] a huge win for the program; the defense could not have played better,” said head coach Kurt Ramler. “If I could pick one thing, it was to get this win for the seniors. I am incredibly proud of the team, and this is a sign that our program is on the rise.
The loss drops the Oles to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in MIAC play. They travel to Bethel on Saturday.
AUGSBURG 24 HAMLINE 21
The Auggies stormed back from a 14-2 deficit, and then dodged a potential game-tying field goal attempt to hold on for a 24-21 win, in front of a packed house of 1,989. The loss put a damper on the Pipers’ Homecoming festivities.
Hamline scored on its first possession, driving 59 yards on nine plays. James Leary capped the drive with a 29-yard scoring strike to Sean Lewis for the TD. The Pipers opted to go for the two-point conversion and Nick Lopez broke through the line for the PAT, lifting Hamline to an 8-0 lead.
Brady Lorenzen prevented a TD as he picked off an errant Jordan Berg pass on the ensuing Augsburg possession, giving Hamline the ball back at its own eight-yard line. Leary orchestrated a 12-play drive that marched the length of the field. He punctuated that drive by diving in from two-yards out, putting Hamline on top, 14-0. The Pipers again elected to try a two-point conversion, but they fumbled the ball. Augsburg’s Royce Winford scooped up the ball and dashed to the opposite end zone for a defensive PAT, trimming Hamline’s lead to 14-2.
Augsburg took the ensuing kick and drove 75 yards before Jason Potts scurried in from four yards out for a touchdown, cutting the Hamline lead to 14-9, which held up into the third quarter.
Winford played a major role in Augsburg’s next score, as he picked off a Leary pass at the Piper 42. Six plays later, he was on the receiving end of a 12-yard toss from Berg. The duo then teamed up to convert a two-point conversion, putting the Auggies on top, 17-14. They increased the margin to 24-14 on an eight-yard run by David Tilton.
Hamline battled back, scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter, as Leary scampered in from 12 yards out. They later put together a 17-play drive that stalled at the Augsburg 17 with 0:13 left to play. A field goal attempt from there drifted wide to the left, ending the Hamline rally.
Leary led the Pipers with 85 yards rushing. He also threw for 167 yards, connecting on 17-of-24 passes. Alex House caught six of those for 64 yards.
Berg completed 28-of-40 passes for 311 yards, but was sacked three times and picked off three times. Winford and Potts each caught eight passes, for 94 and 91 yards, respectively.
With the loss, the Pipers fall to 1-3, 0-3 MIAC, while the Auggies improve to 4-0, 2-0 MIAC. Hamline travels to Saint John’s next Saturday, while Augsburg travels to Carleton for a showdown for first place.
ST. THOMAS 30 GUSTAVUS 22
The Tommies, who never trailed, got career- best days from Ben Wartman and Fritz Waldvogel as they jumped to a 16-0 lead and held on for the win. They put frowns on most of the 4,687 faces at Gustavus’ Homecoming.
Wartman rushed for 196 yards, while Waldvogel caught 12 passes for 180 yards. The defense held GAC to 22 yards on the ground.
Chad Arlt hauled in seven passes for 134 yards to lead the Gustavus offense.
UST took the opening kick and marched 79 yards for a score. Wartman capped the drive with a 32-yard scamper for the TD. The PAT failed, but UST led 6-0.
In the second quarter, the Tommies upped that lead to 16-0 on 26-yard field goal by Eric Taylor and a one-yard touchdown by Ryan McCarthy.
Late in the third quarter, the Tommies seemingly pinned the Gusties deep, as a penalty on a punt gave GAC the ball at its one-yard line. However, Jordan Becker hooked up with Arlt for a 99-yard scoring bomb- the second 99-yard TD of Arlt’s career- to cut the gap to 16-7.
St. Thomas responded with a 42-yard scoring strike from David Sauer to Waldvogel, capping an 86-yard drive and staking a 23-7 lead.
Becker teamed with Blake Noenning for a 50-yard TD, but Sauer and Waldvogel connected for a 55-yard gain to set up a one-yard plunge by Wartman, making the score 30-14. Becker and Arlt hooked up for a three-yard TD and the ensuing two-point conversion, but the UST defense bottled things up after that.
The win lifts St. Thomas to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in MIAC play. The Tommies head to co-league leader Concordia on Saturday.
Gustavus falls to 1-2 in league action and 2-2 on the year. They travel to Pacific Lutheran for a non-conference tilt on Saturday.
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2008 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Standings
Through games of October 04, 2008
Conference Overall Team W L W L ---- - - - - Augsburg College 2 0 4 0 Carleton College 2 0 3 0 Concordia College 2 0 3 1 Univ. of St. Thomas 2 1 3 1 St. Olaf College 1 2 3 2 Saint John's University 1 2 3 2 Gustavus Adolphus 1 2 2 2 Bethel University 1 2 2 3 Hamline University 0 3 1 3
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Augsburg @ Carleton- 1 PM
St. Thomas @ Concordia - 1 PM
Hamline @ Saint John’s- 1 PM
St. Olaf @ Bethel -1 PM
Gustavus @ Pacific Lutheran- 3:30 PM (non-conference)