After a tough 20-17 overtime loss against MIAC rival St. John’s, the Tommies look to bounce back Saturday in Northfield against Carleton.
Carleton is coming off a loss in St. Peter against Gustavus, which dropped the Knights to 1-3 in the MIAC and 3-3 overall. Carleton watched a 21-6 third quarter lead slip away last week as Gustavus scored in the final minute to win the game 28-21.
The Tommies (5-1, 4-1) are coming off a close loss also and realize the importance of coming back strong.
“It is very important for us to bounce back this week,” said sophomore wide receiver Fritz Waldvogel. “We can’t afford to have a hangover from the loss at St. John’s. We can’t change the outcome now, we have to worry about Carleton.”
In the 2008 meeting against Carleton, it took some late game heroics to get the win. Then-junior tight end Jake Friederichs caught a 6-yard touchdown pass as time expired, giving the Tommies a 33-31 victory.
Carleton had 405 yards of offense in the game, led by then-senior quarterback Shane Henfling. Henfling had three touchdown passes totaling 392 yards on his way to setting a school record for single game completions with 41.
The Tommies were led by Waldvogel with six catches for 96 yards and a 70-yard touchdown punt return. Junior running back Ben Wartman also had a strong performance with 32 rushes for 126 yards.
The win marked the 16th-straight victory over the Knights, keeping Carleton winless at O’Shaughnessy Stadium since 1989.
“Last year’s game was great. They played really well and were also one of the better teams in the conference,” Waldvogel said. “To avoid a nail biter we just have to go into the game worrying about ourselves and control the things we can control.”
Carleton head coach Hurt Ramler is in his fourth year at the school and has established himself by leading the team to a 7-3 record in 2008, good for second in the MIAC behind St. John’s.
Ramler lost 18 seniors last season, including Henfling, the all-time school leader in career touchdowns. The year marks a major transition, as there are only five seniors on the roster with 22 freshmen.
With Henfling gone, Ramler has turned to sophomore Vaugh Schmid at quarterback. Schmid has completed more than 57 percent of his passes, totaling 1310 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Schmid’s receiving core stars sophomore Anthony Kemper, who has caught a touchdown in his first six career games as a starter, including two last weekend against Gustavus.
Though this year’s team has a lot of new players on offense, the Tommies expect a balance in both the run and pass game.
“Carleton was very tough team last year, they had an explosive offense that threw a lot of different things at you,” Wartman said. “We are more comfortable this year and are going to just play Tommie football.”
On defense, Carleton has a strong linebacking core made up of junior Tim Mulso and sophomores Justin Rotman and Mark Skoglund. Skoglund leads the team with 52 tackles, including 11 against Gustavus.
Defensively, the Tommies will look to build off last week and limit big plays.
“We just need to continue to do our job and focus on getting the ball back for the offense,” senior cornerback Kris Kopp said.
Sophomore Greg Morse and the Tommie offense will look to improve on the 239 yards generated on offense last week in Collegeville.
“Coach Caruso does a great job getting us ready for our opponents and it’s on us to execute his game plan,” Waldvogel said. “I think we just need to execute better this week and be more consistent with our assignments.”
Brian Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org