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The Carletonian

Knights clutch close homecoming game against hometown rival St. Olaf

Rachel Bingham

On Saturday, October 7, the Carleton Knights (5-0, 3-0 MIAC) beat hometown rival St. Olaf (3-2. 2-1 MIAC) in a close 33-31 game. The Knights remain undefeated, with the homecoming game securing their sixth consecutive win of the season. Kicker Marcus Merkelbach ’26’s 30-yard field goal brought the team back from behind with only 23 seconds left on the clock. 


Carleton secured an early 13-0 lead, stayed ahead 23-10 at the half and maintained a strong 30-17 lead with less than five minutes left in the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Olaf pulled ahead with two back-to-back touchdowns. With less than two minutes left in the game, Jack Curtis ’26 brought the team within field goal range, where Merkelbach brought the Knights ahead. The defense held off Olaf for the final two plays and secured the Goat trophy for another year. 


Within the first five minutes of the homecoming game, Curtis and Ntense Obono ’25 scored the first touchdown, bringing the score to 7-0. Luke Sugalski ’26 recovered a fumble on the next Olaf offensive drive, which set up Nick Toole ’26 for the next touchdown and increased the Knights’ lead to 13-0. 


In a tedious eight-minute 16-play drive, St. Olaf narrowed the score to 13-7. Merkelbach and Olaf’s Collin Swan kicked a field goal each. Before the end of the first half, Curtis and Jack Huffman ’25 scored another touchdown, leaving the score 23-10 going into the third quarter. 


Despite a strong Carleton defense, Olaf brought the score to 23-17. Carleton’s Curtis and Rye Storrs ’26 and Olaf’s Theo Doran scored, making the game incredibly close in the final quarter. An incomplete pass put Olaf on the offensive in a play that took almost 10 minutes and secured them a short-lived 33-30 lead. Carleton successfully ran down the clock, set up the winning field goal, held off the Olaf offense and won the game in the last four minutes — an incredible game and an even better watch for students. 


The homecoming game always promises incredible entertainment, excitement and nail-biting moments for Carleton students. Parents and community members add to the thrilling atmosphere with homemade food, drinks and signs that help cheer on players. Students certainly bought into the rivalry with signs


 that read, “Our House” and chants that asked, “What even is an Ole?”  The tailgate started two hours before kickoff, with fans piling into the parking lot at 11 a.m. decked out in maize and blue. The “All Day, All Knight” fundraiser gave out free Carleton sunglasses, homecoming t-shirts, Schiller stress balls and an array of Carl-themed stickers. 


Adriana Wiggins ’27 said her bond with the “Carleton community felt the strongest it has this whole term!” as she watched the game. She is a regular at Carleton football events but described the energy at the homecoming game as unparalleled — the number of students, family, fans and even faculty showing their support was “incredible.” As the clock wound down and Carleton lost their lead, Shanti Satran ’26 said she was “literally praying” for a successful offensive play. She is a sports medicine assistant and knows how hard the team has been working this season: “They deserved the win,” Satran said. She noted that one of her close friends left after the half, assuming Carleton had the win “in the bag.” Still, he was “devastated to miss the second half, especially the final minutes of the game. It was crazy!” She concurs that he missed out, recounting that the Olaf student section was already lined up to storm the field and had to slowly trade place with Carleton students. “It was really satisfying to see them leave the sidelines,” Satran said. “We were in it until the last seconds!” Satran and Wiggins remarked that they attended the game last year and are already excited for next fall.  


The game helps raise money for cancer research in the Minnesota Football Coaches Association’s project Tackle Cancer. Over the past 11 years, the games — played by an array of Minnesota football teams — have raised over $3 million for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund. This fall, the organization aims to raise $500,000 across the state. Last year, they came close at $473,000. 176 high schools, 15 colleges (including Carleton) and the Minnesota Vikings are a part of the program. 


With this win, Carleton is on its way to reversing St. Olaf’s 2010s dominance in the hometown game. Next week, the Knights will take on Saint John’s University in Collegeville for their homecoming game. They will play their next home game on October 21 against the College of St. Scholastica.

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About the Contributor
Bea Culligan
Bea Culligan, Social Media Manager and News Editor
Bea (she/her) is a sophomore intended political science major from Los Angeles, California. She is interested in all things news, but most of all, what is happening at Carleton! Bea was previously a Staff Writer.

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