There is one thing that can be said about the Macalester Scots coaching staff; they know how to make a game plan work. Last week Offensive Coordinator Marc Davies was asked how he intended to design his offensive scheme, considering that the Carroll Pioneers had such a high powered offense. Was he going to grind it out to keep their offense off of the field; play a game of keep away? His response?
Carroll received the opening kickoff, and it looked like star running back was going to be the nightmare the coaching staff had worried about all week. His first two carries gained 21 yards, but then the team attempted to go to the air. QB Kyle Burlingame’s first pass was incomplete, and on his second attempt Ryan Flanagan and Nate Yordy tracked the Pioneer’s quarterback down and dropped him for a four-yard loss. One play later they were forced to punt and the Scots began their opening drive on their own 18-yard line. Time for Professor Davies plan to go into effect.
Coach Davies plan was to go for the throat right away. “When you’re a heavy underdog,” he explained, “you have to make some big plays when they are available, especially early on, to put a little doubt in their minds.” Scots QB Samson Bialostok went back to pass on the first play and hit a streaking Victor Bordo for an 82-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Scots lead. It was the exact kind of start that Coach Davies and the team wanted, and Bialostok implemented it perfectly.
With the lead, the Scots defense was fired up, and Defensive Coordinator Marshall Mullenbach devised a plan that had the Pioneers offense on their heels. Williams was dropped for a one-yard loss on the opening play of their next drive and on third and seven Alex Morrall sacked Burlingame for a 14-yard loss forcing Carroll to punt again.
After stunning the Pioneers with the big pass play on their opening drive, the Scots turned to their more conventional attack, giving Carroll a heavy dose of their own star running back, Zandy Stowell. Bialostok began the drive with two runs for six-yards each, and then Stowell carried the ball five consecutive times for 42 yards down to the Carroll nine-yard line. There the drive stalled and Macalester opted for a 23-yard goal attempt. Michael Abramson drilled it and the Scots had a 10-0 lead.
On their next possession the visitors began at their own 24, and looked like the team that the Scots coaching staff had been concerned about all week. Williams was still struggling to find running lanes, but Burlingame was beginning to warm up, completing two passes of 15-yards and another of 20 that moved the ball to the Macalester 25-yard line before the first quarter came to an end. The defense stiffened following the break, creating a fourth and two and it looked like the Pioneers were going to convert it when Williams gained three yards to the 14, but a holding negated the play. On fourth and nine Flanagan broke through the line again and forced Burlingame to make a pass that fell incomplete, and the 12-play drive ended with no points.
With the ball in their offense’s hands, the Scots returned to Stowell and their ground game. The junior running back’s first two carries of the drives went for 11- and 12-yards. Following a penalty, Stowell was held to one-yard making it second and 14. Bialostok completed nine-yard pass to Bordo to make it third and five, and the Pioneers looked like they might have their first defensive stop of the game. However, Bialostok came up big again, hitting his running back coming out of the back field for 1o-yards and a first down. From there Bialostok and Stowell alternated runs, moving the ball to Carroll two-yard where it was first and goal. From there Bialostok kept the ball and went into the end zone untouched, making it 17-0. The three touchdown underdogs were rolling and the Pioneers had no answers.
Despite being down by 17, this was the Carroll Pioneers and they were ranked No. 24 for good reason. They began a nine-play, 65-yard drive that saw Burlingame complete passes of 13- and 23-yards. Williams was still finding very little room to run, but he did score from one-yard out on third and goal to cut the Scots lead to 17-7. That is how the half would end.
Macalester received the opening kickoff and the Pioneers defense was able to force a punt after seven plays. Could the offense respond after a big defensive stand? When Williams had a 23-yard carry to start the drive and that was followed up by a 23-yard pass to Jordan Blank it sure looked like it, but the Scots defense stiffened after a personal foul call make it first and 25. Burlingame’s last two passes fell incomplete and the Scots would be getting the ball back again.
Macalester began their drive at their own five-yard line, and could not really get anything going. They were forced to punt after a three-n-out, and after a 34-yard punt and a 5-yard return by Williams, the Pioneers were set up at the Macalester 37.
Carroll was able to move the ball down to the Scots five, but the defense stiffened to make it fourth and five. This time they opted for the field goal and Tyler Raymaker hit a 22-yarder. It was 17-10 and the momentum was swinging to Carroll’s side.
The Scots needed a big series from their offense, and that is just what they got. The team stayed on the ground, but it was Bialostok that was the one doing the damage. Macalester had the ball for the last 5:40 of the third quarter with the Scots QB rushing six times for 38-yards. That brought up a first and 10 at the Carroll 10 as the third quarter ended. Three plays into the fourth, the quarterback kept the ball and scored from one-yard out and it was 24-10. The 13-play drive took 6:52 off the clock, and may have been the biggest drive of the season for the team.
Coach Tony Jennison decided to roll the dice and went for the onside kick which was recovered by Cash McGregor. He was going to for the dagger, and was in prime position to put this game away, but the Carroll defense held. That brought up a fourth and 15, forcing the team to punt. They may not have scored but they would be able to pin the Pioneers deep in their end, but that plan was blown up when Nick Curtis blocked the punt giving Carroll the ball at the Macalester 20. Three plays later Williams scored from 11-yards out and it was a 7-point game again.
Time for another one of those patented Macalester Scot 10-plus play drives and that is what they got. The offense went 11-plays and 65-yards before Abramson’s 19-yard field goal made it 27-17. The drive did two things. First it made it a two score game, and secondly it ate 5:08 off of the clock. That made it so just 4:32 was left in the game.
The Pioneers needed their star running back to make some plays for them, but that plan was blown-up on the kickoff when Jole Miller dropped Williams at the 14 to make it first and a lot of yards to go for the score. On first down Burlingame hit Williams on a screen but Glen Hartford dropped him after just five yards. Burlingame’s next two passes went incomplete as well, and Carroll surprisingly decided to punt. The kick went just 12-yards before falling out of bounds, and gave the Scots prime field position.
With 3:50 left in the game and up by 10, the Scots rode the legs of Bialostok and Stowell, moving the ball 31-yards on six-plays before Bialostok scored from nine-yards out to make the lead 34-17. It was the third rushing touchdown of the day for the senior, who finished with 122 yards on the ground on 17 carries. He added a fourth touchdown through the air, passing for another 172 yards.
The Pioneers got the ball back with one minute left, but could not mount an attack, and the Scots rolled to a 34-17 win.
The victory was brought about by exceptional performances across the board from the team. The Scots held the No. 1 rushing and scoring team in the conference to 144 yards and 17 points. Meanwhile the Scots gained 302 yards on the ground and had 474 yards total against a Carroll defense that was No. 1 in the conference in most categories.
Stowell was the big workhorse of the group, carrying the ball 34 times for 176 yards and a 5.2 yards per carry average. Bordo had two catches for 91 yards and a touchdown and Ben Hillman had three more receptions for 54.
The Scots defense held Washington to 123 yards and two scores. Burlingame finished with 147 yards passing and was sacked twice.
This was clearly one of the biggest wins in the school’s history and arguably the biggest win in 30-years. The team is now 7-1, and the seven wins ties a school record for victories in a season. More importantly it moves the team into first place in the North Division of the Midwest Conference and gives them an incredible shot at playing for the conference title two weeks from now.
Next week the Macalester Scots will cross the border again and travel to St. Norbert looking to look up the North Division title. The Green Knights are 2-1 in the conference, 4-3 on the season. Watch for a preview of the game on Thursday at the Minor League Sports Report.
By Robert Pannier