For seniors Emanual Williams, Mack Journell, Jay Na, Peter Hagstrom, Christian Cavan, Aaron Prentice, Carlos Lua Pineda, Joe Lewis, Eric Stadelman, and Fletcher Metz, Saturday’s home game against Concordia College marks the final football game of their careers. This season has been, without a doubt, the most successful one in which the class of 2020 has participated. In 2017, the Carleton football team won zero games and sustained losses of 63-0, 49-0, 35-0 and 52-0. Since then, thanks to this senior class, the team has trended in an upward direction and looks to continue for seasons to come.
The Knights started fast this year, demolishing Macalester at home in the “Book of Knowledge” game 41-0. Quarterback Beau Nelson ’22passed for 301 yards and Mack Journell, a receiver, had one of the best games of his career, reeling in 14 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns. The next week the Knights traveled to Appleton, Wisconsin for a contest against Lawrence University, where they won again by a score of 20-10 in a phenomenal defensive effort, totaling five sacks and holding Lawrence to less than 200 yards of total offense. The Knights moved to 2-0, their best start since the 2013 season.
The next stretch of games opened up MIAC play (Macalester football is not part of the conference). The Knights dropped three in a row, including losses to #4 Saint John’s and #7 Bethel, to bring their record to 2-3. However, they were able to bounce back with two consecutive MIAC wins against Hamline and Augsburg. Sean Goodman ’21 ran for a go-ahead 30 yard touchdown to defeat Hamline on the road, and the defense did its job once again. Travis Brown ’21 tallied a game-high 14 tackles. They defeated Augsburg on Homecoming, starting off fast on offense with a 70 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jonathan Singleton ’23 to Williams. Both were fantastic; Singleton threw for a career-high 417 yards and six touchdowns, while Williams had 14 catches for 226 yards. He scored three times on catches of 71, 30 and 17 yards. Singleton’s performance tied him for the most touchdown passes in a single game in Carleton history. Williams had the second-most receiving yards in a single game in Carleton history, the most for a Knights receiver since 1990. In every sense, the Homecoming victory was an offensive explosion destined to happen for quite some time.
Though the next game brought a 63-15 loss at home to #18 St. Thomas, it was by far the best performance this Knights team has had against the Tommies. The Knights led most of the first quarter 6-0 and was only down 14-9 at halftime after kicker Trent Ramirez ’23 drilled the longest field goal in Carleton history, a 48 yard kick with one second left in the half. Singleton threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns against a vaunted Tommie defense. The Knights couldn’t keep up in the second half, but their performance in the first half against the nationally-ranked program is something to applaud. In spite of a four-touchdown performance from Singleton at Gustavus Adolphus the next week, the Knights lost again. With one game left in the season, their overall record is 4-5 (2-5 in the MIAC).
This Saturday at Laird Stadium is sure to be an emotional one for the football program. Senior Day marks the departure of multiple Knights who have contributed to the program for four years, including the standout receiver duo of Journell and Williams. Although the seniors will surely be sad to finish their football careers, they have to be happy with the state they’re leaving the program in. With an influx of young talent and quality games against good teams, the Knights football program looks to be rising from the ashes of a dismal past couple of years. This season was their best start since 2013, when the Knights finished at a .500 win percentage. With a win at home on Saturday, the Knights will return to .500 once more.