The St. Olaf College football team opened up a 23-0 halftime lead and held on in the second half for a 23-14 Homecoming victory over crosstown-rival Carleton College to keep possession of the Goat Trophy for the seventh-straight meeting in the series on Saturday afternoon at Klein Field at Manitou.
St. Olaf (3-2, 2-1 MIAC) jumped out to a 23-0 lead at halftime thanks to a pair of first-half touchdown passes from first year Theo Doran, a 42-yard field goal by sophomore Collin Swan, and a nine-yard rushing score by junior Jordan Embry. Carleton (4-1, 2-1 MIAC) fought back in the second half behind a pair of short touchdown passes from Jonathan Singleton to Ntense Obono but was unable to get any closer.
The victory was the seventh in a row for the Oles in the head-to-head series between the two crosstown rivals, which is tied for the third-longest winning streak by either team over the 101 meetings. St. Olaf won 11 in a row from 1997-2007, nine in a row from 1964-72, and also had a seven-game winning streak from 1974-80.
Embry carried the load offensively for St. Olaf, rushing a career-high 34 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. His 34 carries are tied for the third-most by an Ole in recorded program history and the most since JJ Strnad had 35 against Gustavus on Oct. 11, 2014.
In his first collegiate start, Doran was an efficient 7-for-11 for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with Alada hauling in three receptions for a game-high 88 yards and a score. St. Olaf held a slender advantage in total offense in the game, outgaining Carleton by a 282-273 margin thanks to a 160-77 edge in rushing yards.
Defensively, senior Brandon Foster had a game-high 14 total tackles and one of the Oles’ five sacks on the afternoon. Sophomore Ben Hestorff and fifth-year senior Jordan Bartholomew had two sacks apiece.
St. Olaf got on the board first with 6:28 remaining in the first quarter on an eight-yard pass from Doran to senior Isaac Coutier that came the play after Carleton muffed a punt to set up the Oles inside the 10-yard line. After a three-and-out by the Ole defense, St. Olaf extended its lead with a 42-yard field goal by Swan to make it 10-0 after one quarter.
On the first possession of the second quarter, the Oles pushed their lead to 17-0 when Doran hit a streaking Alada down the middle of the field for a 41-yard touchdown on a drive that started with five-straight running plays. The drive was the third consecutive possession that ended in points for St. Olaf.
With a little over a minute remaining in the half, Carleton had a fourth-and-one at their own 47-yard line and decided to go for it but Hestorff and Bartholomew combined on a run stop to give the ball back to St. Olaf. The Oles got the ball into the redzone and, with no timeouts remaining, covered the final 20 yards on a pair of running plays with the clock moving to score on a nine-yard run by Embry with eight seconds to go in the half.
After being held to 77 yards of offense in the first half, the Knights looked like a different team after intermission. Carleton out-gained St. Olaf 159-30 in the third quarter and owned a 13-1 edge in first downs. The Knights got their first points of the day on a two-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Singleton to Ntense Obono with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter. The same duo connected for a successful two-point conversion that made the score 23-8. Singleton accounted for all 69 yards on drive, 49 through the air and the other 20 on the ground.
The Carleton defense quickly got the ball back to its offense, which proceeded to march 76 yards in 12 plays for its second-straight touchdown drive. Obono hauled in his second score of the game from Singleton – this time from six yards out – on the third play of the fourth quarter, but the two-point conversion that would have made it a one-score game was unsuccessful.
Later in the fourth, the Knights had an opportunity to make it a one-score game but Trent Ramirez’s 31-yard field goal attempt bounced back off the right upright to keep it a 23-14 game. On the ensuing drive, the Oles were able to eat up the final 3:05 of the game on the ground to close out the victory.
For Carleton, Isaac Simons, Michael Carey, Doug Pham, Ryan McGregor and Travis Brown all had double digits in tackles.
Singleton was 25-for-40 for 188 yards and the two touchdowns. He now has 33 career touchdown passes, good for sixth on Carleton’s all-time list. Singleton increased his career total to 3,296 passing yards, 11th-best in team history.
Carl Marvin had a career-best 10 receptions for 83 yards.
St. Olaf visits nationally-ranked Saint John’s Saturday, Oct. 16 for a 1 p.m. kickoff in Collegeville.
Carleton travels to Duluth, Minn., to face the College of St. Scholastica on Saturday, Oct. 16. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Knights and the newest member of the MIAC.