You will have to excuse Macalester Scots players Zandy Stowell and Samson Bialostok if they decide to ruin the day of the Illinois College Blueboys on Saturday. The two have been kind of rude like that lately. Whether they are at home or on the road, they have simply done nothing but be offensive, and the two are perfectly happy to continue in their rude ways.
The Macalester Scots are on a seven-game winning streak that has improved the team’s record to 8-1. The eight wins are a school record, and the winning streak has vaulted the team into the Midwest Conference (MWC) title game, after a victory against St. Norbert gave the Scots the North Division title. It has been an incredible run for a school that that is now gaining a lot of national attention, and at the heart of this resurgence is those two ill-mannered players.
The Minor League Sports Report has interviewed these two before, which was just prior to the Knox game six contests ago. The team was 2-1 at that point, and since then they have ridden the legs of Stowell and the arm and legs of Bialostok to reach the 8-1 mark. The two have progressively become better and better to the point that they are now the most dynamic combination in the conference. Don’t believe it? Just ask Carrol, St. Norbert, Knox, Lawrence, Beloit and Ripon. They will all gladly testify.
The truth is that these men are not rude or ill-mannered at all. They are intelligent and thoughtful young men, who have played a key role in helping integrate and teach the younger players on this team how to embrace the Scots new winning tradition. Freshman receiver Sam Bordo shared how the upper classmen have made him feel like he was always equal on the team, and he credits the quarterback and the running back for making him feel like he fit in from the start. “Samson always takes the time on the sidelines during games to help me improve and understand that offense better. Zandy is such a positive role model, and he has always made me feel welcome.”
Welcome is not what opponents have felt in facing the two this season. Stowell has become one of the toughest backs in the country and has proven himself to be incredibly durable. He carried the ball 36 times last week, following a 30 carry week in the previous game. Yet the junior says to bring it on. “I am really shocked at the end of games to see how many carries I had. It’s just what my team needs me to do. Besides I don’t want to come out of the game anyway.”
What his team has needed is for him to pound the ball and wear down opposing defenses. That is exactly what he has done. Stowell has gained 1087 yards in eight games. That number is 22nd in all of division-III football and he has gotten stronger with each passing week. Excluding the game against Lawrence, where he was pulled after the team jumped out to a 33-o lead, the junior running back has gained at least 143 yards in four of the last five games. Against Beloit he had a season high 208 yards, and his 36 carries against St. Norbert were also a season high. In those four games he has averaged 159 yards and 31 carries.
Bialostok has also gotten hot as the team’s winning streak has progressed. Against Beloit he completed 14 of 26 passes for 249 yards and two scores, and also rushed seven times for 43 more. The previous week against Ripon the senior had 16 carries for 145 yards and a TD. He, too, came out early against Lawrence, but in the two biggest games of the season for the Scots, Bialostok came up especially huge. He was 16 for 36 passing in those two games for 294 yards and two touchdowns, and he added 30 carries for 222 yards and five scores.
“I think I am really gaining more confidence each week, and that as a group we are putting it all together, but it really starts up front.”
Stowell agrees. “Our offensive line is unbelievable. They create holes for us and make it easy to find room to run.”
This is an outstanding offensive line, led by seniors Spencer Weckworth, Djoser Ramsey and John Stephens. The line is making space to run and giving time for the senior QB to make throws, but these two are making the plays and it has shown on the field.
Consider this stat for a moment. In the last two games Bialostok and Stowell have combined for 541 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Those numbers are unreal, and even seem to surprise the two. “Wow, that is really amazing,” says a smiling Bialostok. “With a line like ours we can be tough to stop,” explains Stowell.
One of the things that has happened for Macalester this year is that they have put together an amazing number of 10-plus play drives. During the win streak they have had 14 such drives, with there being at least two in every game with one exception – the Lawrence game. The team scored so quickly that an extended drive was not necessary. However of the 14 drives all but one ended in either a touchdown or a field goal attempt, and the season high was a 22-play drive against Ripon.
How do they put drives together like this? Bialostok explains. “I think it has a lot to do with our confidence. A big thing that is in our minds is how we are going to handle adversity. We like to pound the ball against opponents, and we have the confidence to know we can keep the ball.”
Zowell agrees. “It seems like there are points in games where our offense just focuses in. We are not so worried about the end result of the drive, but are focused on just getting good yardage on first and second down, so we don’t have third and long and are able to keep the drive going.”
The team may not be focused on the end result, but this duo knows how to provide results when they are needed most, and they show how dominant they can be in the 10-plus play drive. Last week against St. Norbert, the Green Knights kicked a field goal that made the score 14-13. The Scots responded with a 15-play, 72-yard drive that ended in a touchdown and staked the team to an eight-point lead. Stowell carried the ball 11 times on that drive, gaining 42 tough yards against a defense that knew he was getting the ball. Bialostok had two huge pass completions, including an eight-yard pass to Tre Nowaczynski on third and seven that kept the chains moving. The QB scored on a first and goal play to seal the drive.
The previous week Carroll pulled to within seven in the third quarter, then watched Macalester rattle off a 13-play drive and two series later a 10-play drive. One ended in a touchdown, the other in a field goal. And who led those drives?
On the 13-play drive there were 12 runs and a pass by Bialostok. All 12 carries were by Stowell or Bialostok. The 10-play drive saw six rushes from the duo and three passes. The two thrive on these drives, and they wear down opposing defenses.
This week poses a huge challenge for the duo. Illinois College’s QB Michael Bates leads the conference in passing yards and TD passes, and is tenth in rushing yards. He leads an offense that is first in points scored and yards gained per game. This means the two are going to have to put up some points if they are going to bring home a conference title.
“We know what we need to do,” Bialostok explains. “We have to play our game and play within the plan that is designed. I know we have not faced a team this good this year, but they have not faced a team with as good a defense as ours. We earned our way here and we will be ready to play.”
This week’s title game contest is a matchup of the conference’s No. 1 offense verses the No. 1 defense, but for Samson Bialostok and Zandy Stowell it is a chance to continue the torrid pace they have been on the last three weeks. The Macalester Scots will need a huge outing from each of them to bring home the school’s first conference title in 67 years. For that to happen they will have to be ready to put up some big numbers of their own. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two be especially offensive this week.
By Robert Pannier