Through the first four weeks of the season this had been the high-flying Macalester Scots with their big play offense. However, the team showed that they can grind out a win, counting on their defense to make big plays for them. That is exactly what they got on Saturday, when the defense held Ripon College scoreless for 57:30 of this contest, as the Scots prevailed 16-8. Defensive ends Liam Peebles and Nick Egersdorf led the way, combining to record five-sacks, and the defense held Ripon to 236-yards of total offense.
This was a real defensive struggle for much of the afternoon. In the first half both teams got huge performances out of their defense. It was a scoreless tie after 30-minutes, as neither team could generate any offense. Ripon took the opening kickoff and moved the ball 40-yards in 7-plays, but they were forced to punt. They then saw two consecutive three-and-out series. They would enter the half with 142-yards of offense.
The Scots were not faring any better. Their first three-series resulted in three-and-outs, and the two possessions where they were moving the ball ended in turnovers. It was a tough defensive battle that was anyone’s game.
In the second half, Macalester was finally able to start moving the ball. In their first possession of the third quarter, the Scots moved 55-yards before settling on a 26-yard field goal by Ben Haltmaier.
On their next possession they would finally get into the end zone. Starting from their own 44, QB Cody Petrich found Tre Nowacynski for 45-yards to the Ripon eight. Three-plays later Petrich scored from 2-yards out and it was 10-0.
On the next possession for Ripon, Chance Carnahan made a huge play when he intercepted a Samuel Shroyer pass on the second play of the drive. With the ball at the Ripon 24, the Scots would have to settle for a 34-yard field goal from Haltmaier. That made it a 13-0 game.
Even when something went well for Ripon it seemed to backfire. On the next possession for Macalester, Haltmaier’s field goal was blocked and recovered by Patrick Barany. However, Nowaczynski forced a fumble and Billy Retza recovered. With another chance to make good, Haltmaier would drill a 21-yard field goal and the Scots led 16-0.
By the way their defense was playing, 16-points seemed insurmountable. The Scots recorded two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the second half as they seemed to be everywhere. Ripon’s first five drives of the second half did not generate one drive that gained more than six-yards.
Finally, on their last possession of the game they were able to break through. Griffin McNeal led the drive, completing 2 of 4 passes, including a 35-yarder to Cameron Mignone for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and, with 2:30 left on the clock, there was a glimmer of hope.
However, Ethan Carpenter recovered the onside kick. The Scots then ran out the clock and walked away with the tough 16-8 victory.
The defense absolutely starred in this contest. Peebles recorded three-sacks and Egersdorf added two more. Senior Glen Hartford added the sixth sack for the defense on the day. Egorsdorf’s two-sacks gives him eight on the season, putting him in the top five nationally.
Next Saturday the Macalester Fighting Scots welcome Lawrence University to town. Kickoff is 1:00 PM.
By Robert Pannier