St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 5, 2016 – The Washington University in St. Louis football team celebrated Senior Day with a 49-46 victory over Hendrix College Saturday at Francis Field in St. Louis.
WashU's defense forced five turnovers, and senior defensive back Nick Annin blocked the potential game-tying field goal with 2:00 left.
WashU improved to 7-2 and 6-1 in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA), while Hendrix dropped to 6-3, 4-3 in the SAA. With the win, WashU remained in a three-way tie for first place in the SAA standings with Berry College and Centre College.
Prior to the contest, WashU honored its 16 seniors who played their final game at Francis Field. This year's senior class holds an overall record of 25-15 (.625), captured the 2013 and 2015 University Athletic Association (UAA) championships, and made an appearance in the 2013 NCAA Playoffs.
Senior running back Austin Smestad ran for a career-high 197 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Smestad sealed the victory with an 80-yard TD run with 1:01 left on the clock. He also moved into seventh place on the all-time WashU rushing list with 1,737 yards.
"That last play. I don't think anything would've stopped him," said WashU head coach Larry Kindbom. "I can imagine that kid running across Forest Park and down to the Arch. He was so committed taking that ball the distance."
WashU's defense was the story in the first half as the Bears kept Hendrix scoreless on its first four possessions. Junior defensive back Nate Lowis picked off Hendrix QB Seth Peters on the opening drive of the game.
WashU took the 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter on a 16-yard rush by Smestad. The TD capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive.
After junior defensive lineman Alex Valverde caused a fumble on the ensuing drive, WashU drove down to the Warriors' 17-yard line. Senior quarterback J.J. Tomlin later fumbled and Hendrix recovered on the WashU 45-yard line.
Two plays later, Dayton Winn scored from eight yards out to tie the score. After a fumble by senior Dylan Newcomb on the kickoff return, Winn scored from 15 yards out to make it 14-7 with 6:43 left before half.
WashU took a 21-17 lead to the locker room after totaling 246 yards of total offense. Tomlin was 16-of-22 for 195 yards and two TDs, while Hammarlund had five receptions for 100 yards. The Bears were 8-of-11 on third downs in the first half.
Winn scored his third TD of the game to make it 28-24, but the Bears answered back after a fake punt. Freshman punter Johnny Davidson tossed a 15-yard reception to junior David Nees on 4th-and-5. Three plays later, Tomlin tossed a three-yard TD pass to Hammarlund to extend the lead to 35-24.
Smestad scored from two yards out, and then Ben Luedtke answered with an 81-yard kickoff return for a TD to make it 42-39.
Tomlin completed 23-of-36 for 282 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Hammarlund had eight catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and he broke the WashU single-season school record with 79 receptions.
Sophomore linebacker Jake Coon and Marcus each recorded a career-high 17 tackles, while Lowis added 12 tackles.
Hendrix had a 631-524 advantage in total offense. Winn ran for 264 yards and four touchdowns, while Peters was 28-of-39 for 276 yards and three TDs.
Newcomb had three kickoff returns for 58 yards, and broke the kickoff return yardage school record with 1,651 yards.
WashU wraps up regular season play Saturday, Nov. 12, at University of Chicago. Kickoff is set for Noon at Stagg Field.
BEAR NOTEBOOK: WashU leads the all-time series 3-1 … The Bears are 17-3 at home the past four seasons … The Warriors entered the game leading the SAA in scoring (43.5 ppg), rushing yards (216.4), passing yards (378.6) and total offense (595.0) … WashU has outscored its opponents 94-47 in the third quarter … Hendrix had a 38:21-17:39 advantage in time of possession.