The Macalester College Fighting Scots opened the 2016 football season looking to erase the memories of a fallen 2015 season. They also looked to erase the ideas of what fans have become accustomed to out of the team’s offense as the team threw 40 times in a 30-23 victory over Carleton College. That gave the Scots the Book of Knowledge trophy, the second time they have earned the rivalry award in the last three seasons.
This contest got off to a much different start from last season, when Carleton took the opening kickoff, marched down the field, and scored. This time Macalester got the ball first, but they went three and out after three incomplete passes.
Neither team was able to move the ball on their first two possessions, and it looked like the Scots would be punting on their third possession as well, but QB Christian Adams made a great play that put his team on top. With the team at third and 9 at their own five, the quarterback went back to pass and looked like he might be sacked. However, he stepped away from the pressure and bought a little time. That allowed WR Alec Beatty to sneak behind the defensive backs and Adams hit him at about the 25. Beatty then turned on the jets and raced the remaining 75-yards for the touchdown. The extra-point was no good and the Scots led 6-0.
Adams wound up getting hurt on the play and so backup Cody Petrich took over on Macalester’s next drive. The team started from their own 39, and Petrich methodically led the team down the field. That included completing three third-down conversions for first downs. The drive finally stalled at the Carleton 15, where Matt Glasenapp drilled a 33-yard field goal to make the score 9-0.
The Scots had dominated the first quarter, but two costly turnovers would turn the tide of the game and help to give Carleton College the lead. Carleton took the ball following the Macalester field goal and marched the field to put up three of their own. Quarterback Zach Creighton starred on the drive, completing his first four-passes, including a 27-yarder to Michael Frett to put the ball at the Macalester 40. The drive would eventually stall at the Scots 7-yard line. There, Brandt Davis drilled a 24-yard field goal to make it 9-3.
Christian Adams returned from the early injury to lead the Scots next drive. He completed his first pass, but his second one was beautifully played by Dylan Saline, who jumped in front of the throw, intercepting it and running 44-yards before finally being pushed out of bounds at the Macalester 11. On the first play of the drive Creighton found Chris Madden, who took the swing pass and rushed to the right side where he would cross the goal line. The extra point was good and the Knights led 10-9.
With about four minutes left in the half the Scots looked to punt, but the Macalester punter was tackled at his team’s 19. Three-plays later Davis kicked a 20-yard field goal and it was 13-9 heading into the half.
The Knights would be stopped on each of their first two drives of the second half. In the Scots first possession, Adams had been intercepted when the receiver deflected the ball in the air and it was intercepted by the Knights Mark Leedy.
On their second possession, offensive coordinator would look for the long ball and he would get it. The Fighting Scots began at their own 30 and moved the ball to the Carleton 38-yard line. There, on third and two, Adams found a streaking Garrett Eichhorn racing down the right sideline and hit him in stride for the 38-yard touchdown. After the extra-point was good the Scots suddenly led 16-13.
It would remain that way until the fourth quarter, when Coach Davies would dial up the big play again. Macalester got the ball at their own 25-yard line with just a little over a minute gone in the quarter. After an incompletion, Adams found Eichhorn again, this time for 51-yards before he was forced out of bounds at the Carleton 24. Three-plays later Adams found Beatty for a 7-yard touchdown to make it 23-13.
For the next 10-minutes the defenses would take over and stymy their opponent, but the final three minutes added a whole lot of drama. Carleton began the drama when Creighton led his team on a 10-play, 77-yard drive that took just 2:09 off the clock. His 12-yard touchdown pass to Mark Journell with 1:04 left in the game pulled the Knights back within three.
Carleton went for the onside kick but it went out of bounds, giving the Scots the ball at the Carleton 45. There was no doubt in anyone’s minds that Coach Davies would simply have his offense run out the clock but, instead, he called for a pass play, and Adams delivered. The Macalester QB hit Beatty over the middle, and the wide receiver raced the rest of the way for the 45-yard touchdown.
Following the game, Head Coach Tony Jennison explained that he was not surprised by the call at all. “Coach Davies and I talked before the game that we weren’t coming here not to lose. We were playing to win. I have a lot of confidence in my coaching staff, and that call was a gutsy one that really paid off.”
Adams agreed. “I was a little surprised, but I liked that they put confidence in me that I could make the play. That was just a huge moment for sure.”
Carleton would attempt one last ditched effort to get back into the game. Creighton would move the Knights to the Macalester 11 where they would opt for the field goal. Again they turned to the onside kick to try to get one last chance to tie the score, but Ethan Carpenter made a nice play to grab the ball and seal the victory as Macalester went onto win 30-23.
The Fighting Scots threw for 429-yards, led by Adams who was 14-33 for 336-yards and 4-TDs. Beatty made 5-catches for 160-yards and 3-TDs. Senior Garrett Eichhorn led the team with 8-catches and he had the other touchdown reception. Jacob Jones rushed 18-times for 71-yards.
Creighton had a huge all-around performance for Carleton. He threw for 183-yards and 2-scores, and also ran for 71-yards. Chris Madden made 12-catches for 75-yards and a score.
On defense, the Fighting Scots were led by Phillip Wettersten, who made 15-tackles and had a sack. Senior defensive end Nick Egersdorf had 2-sacks to go along with 9-tackles Freshman Kiante Miles made 13-tackles in his first college game.
Next week Macalester College heads up Snelling Avenue to take on Hamline University. Kickoff is at 7:00 PM. Check out the Scots Scheme to catch Coach Jennison’s insights on the game.
By Robert Pannier