Both teams emerged from the game with some eye-popping statistics. The two quarterbacks, St. Olaf's Matt Penz '08 and Carleton's Shane Henfling, each threw for over 400 yards and at least four touchdowns. Penz's five touchdowns gave him the Oles' career passing touchdown record with 50 in his two years as a starter. Incredibly, Henfling completed all 25 of his first half passes as Carleton jumped out to the early lead, ringing up 328 passing yards before hafltime.
At one point in the second quarter, Carleton led 21-7 and had possession in St. Olaf territory, but the Oles stopped that drive and established a high-powered offense that never let up. Aided by a Carleton turnover, St. Olaf scored two touchdowns in just over a minute during the second quarter on a pass to Mike Shimshock '10 and a run by Evan Endsley '09. A two-point conversion pass from Andrew Schmiesing '08 to Coty Watkins '09 put the Oles in front, though Carleton rebounded with another Henfling touchdown pass to receiver Matt Frank.
Horace Gant '08 contributed one of his two touchdown receptions just before halftime to put St. Olaf ahead for good. In the second half, the Oles scored 28 points in each quarter, helped by five more Carleton turnovers. Charlie Mylrea '08 and Rob McDonald '09 each returned interceptions to the end zone. The pass defense harried Henfling into incompletions and turnovers, while Carleton managed -11 yards rushing on the entire game. The defense notched eight sacks, led by Max Rustad '11 with 2.5 and Jake Lodahl '09 with two. The Carleton attack's lack of balance finally caught up to the Knights in the second half as the Oles unleashed an unprecedented tidal wave of offense.
Running back Endsley scored three of his four touchdowns in the second half. Fellow back Watkins added two touchdowns, while reserve Mac Webb '11 scored his first collegiate touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Preston St. John '08 caught a 58-yard pass for Penz's final touchdown throw. Despite the scoring disparity, St. Olaf had only two more first downs than Carleton on the game. Turnovers doomed the Knights' scoring opportunities and allowed the high-octane Oles consistent favorable field position.
The win was the Oles' 11th straight against Northfield rival Carleton, running their record in the overall series to 47-43-3. It also marked head coach Chris Meidt's fourth consecutive season of seven wins or more, which also credits the current senior class for sustained success.
Despite the tremendous victory over the crosstown foes, Meidt received some complaints from people about the lopsided score. The 113 combined points represented an all-time high for a St. Olaf football game.
However, Meidt pointed to the tense first half and Carleton's plethora of turnovers in the second half as reasons for the admittedly lopsided score. "Every kid gave a great effort," Meidt said. "We played all 60 kids. They gave it everything they had, which I see as honoring the game. Our backups scored 21 points."
Meidt did not hesitate to credit his defense for their second half turnaround. "They played great," Meidt said. "In the second half we absolutely shut them down. Obviously in the first half Carleton found some holes, so you have to give them some credit. Funny as it sounds with an 85-28 score, it was a great comeback win."
Seniors on the team who don't get much playing time saw action for the entire fourth quarter. With great field position and big plays, the Oles scored at will in the second half. With the win, the Bridge Square eagle turns again toward St. Olaf and the Cereal Bowl trophy rests safely in the Porter Hall trophy case.
However, the Oles await one final test. MIAC rival St. Thomas comes to Manitou Field in the final home game for St. Olaf's illustrious senior class. With absolute seriousness, Meidt called the Tommies "the best 2-7 team in the nation," pointing to their individual talent and habitual inability to play as a team.
A win would leave St. Olaf with an outside shot at the NCAA playoffs, though odds are not in the team's favor. St. Olaf and St. Thomas clash 1 p.m. Saturday.