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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Knights fall on senior day to Cobbers

<n unnaturally warm November day, the Carleton College offense could never heat up when it needed to most as the Knights (3-6, 1-6 MIAC) fell to visiting Concordia College-Moorhead 31-16 in the season's home finale at Laird Stadium.

It was the final home game for five Carleton seniors, and two turned in stellar performances. Defensive end Adam Hallbeck matched his career high with nine tackles and added a sack and fumble recovery. Running back Phil Blue notched 55 yards on five carries, including an electrifying 47-yard gallop that highlighted the Knights’ first scoring drive.

The gallant efforts of the senior Knights were in vain, however, as the Cobbers (5-4, 3-4 MIAC) dominated possession, outgaining Carleton 416-228 in total offensive yards. Concordia exploited the Knights’ run defense for 254 yards on the ground with Andrew Larson carrying the ball a whopping 32 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Making his second career start, Carleton junior quarterback Jacob Anderson completed 17-of-31 passes for 122 yards and his first collegiate touchdown pass, a 19-yard strike to classmate Dylan Bothun. Anderson accounted for the Knights’ second touchdown with his legs, running in from two yards.

Concordia drew first blood on its opening drive, as three healthy gains by running back Justin Branter and a 25-yard completion from quarterback Michael Dunham to Jake Krause quickly landed the Cobbers on the Knights’ doorstep. The Carleton defense muscled up in the red zone, however, forcing a third-down incompletion after sophomore linebacker Mark Skoglund sacked Dunham on second-and-goal. Concordia settled for a 24-yard Carl Hauser field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

After a quick Carleton three-and-out, the Cobbers padded their cushion as Dunham’s 40-yard bomb to Chris Gilson set up a three-yard touchdown rush by Larson.

The score remained 10-0 until early in the second quarter when the Knights found the scoreboard. One play after Hallbeck recovered a Dunham fumble at the Carleton 29-yard line, Blue ripped off the longest run of his career, scampering 47 yards down the right sideline. A Concordia face mask penalty on the play brought the Knights all the way inside the Cobbers’ ten-yard line, but Carleton could not punch it in and settled for a 30-yard field goal by Eric Murphy.

Concordia quickly reasserted its control of the game’s tempo, however, as the Cobbers proceeded to grind out a 15-play, eight-minute drive capped by Branter’s 13-yard touchdown rush.

Anderson found his timing for the Knights’ next drive, completing all five of his passes. After freshman receiver C.J. Dale made a clutch fourth-down catch on a ball deflected off the hands of a Cobber defender, Anderson showed his veteran wits in finding the end zone. On second-and-goal, Concordia’s line jumped off-sides just before the snap; knowing he had a free play to use, Anderson lofted it deep for Bothun, who beat his defender for the touchdown, bringing the score to 17-10.

Thanks to a big third-down sack by Hallbeck on the Cobbers’ next possession, the margin would remain seven at the half.

Both defenses came out of the locker rooms fired up, and neither team recorded a first down for the first three possessions of the third quarter. Following a short Carleton punt, however, the Cobbers powered the ball in, with Larson breaking free from 10 yards out to cap the drive and give the visitors a 24-10 lead.

The Knights got the ball back and seemed to dig themselves a deeper hole when Jake Uphus picked off Anderson; but the Carleton defense gave its team a lift on the next play. After Larson caught a nine-yard pass from Dunham, cornerback DeAngelo Williams stripped the ball from the Cobber back and Zack Armstrong pounced on the loose pigskin. The Knights’ offense capitalized, driving down the field to set up Anderson’s two-yard touchdown plunge.

Murphy’s PAT attempt clanged off the right goalpost, however, keeping the score at 24-16 with 2:00 to play in the third quarter.

Trailing by just one possession, Carleton’s defense yielded a 35-yard completion from Dunham to Gilson but then regrouped and forced the Cobbers to punt. On perhaps the game’s deciding play, however, Concordia’s special teams unit turned in a gem, as David Williamson’s punt rolled towards the Knights’ goal line, and Luke Hvidston dove full extension to down the ball just inches out of the end zone.

Starting inside its own one-yard line, the Carleton offense mustered only two yards before Bill Moritz was forced to punt out of the back of his own end zone. Concordia utilized its excellent field position, as Dunham broke loose on the fourth play of the drive for a 20-yard touchdown rush that put the Cobbers back up by two scores.

After the teams traded punts, the Knights managed one more threat as they drove into Cobber territory, but Anderson’s pass on fourth-and-two glanced off the outstretched fingertips of Bothun. Taking over on downs, Concordia’s running backs milked the remaining 5:16 off the clock to seal the win for the visitors.

In addition to Blue and Hallbeck, Saturday’s game marked the final home contest for defensive end John Schlaefer , quarterback Spenser Williamson, and kicker Kyle Burkhardt.

The Knights will wrap up the 2009 season on the road next Saturday as they take on undefeated Saint John’s University in the rematch of last year’s heartbreaking last-minute loss in the MIAC championship. Knights Online will carry a live broadcast of the 1 p.m. contest.

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