Second Half Rally Leads Macalester Scots to 28-21 Win
Earlier in the week Macalester Scots Head Coach Tony Jennison commented to the Minor League Sports Report that the Beloit College Buccaneers were a team to be reckoned with because the Bucs new Head Coach, Seth Duerr, was a real quality coach who was getting the most out of a roster of just 33-players. Some may have seen this as just Coach Jennison’s way of down-playing a team that appeared inferior to his, however, once again the Coach’s assessments proved golden as the Scots had to battle back from a 21-10 half-time deficit to defeat Beloit 28-21.
The Buccaneers stopped the Scots on their first possession forcing a punt after just five plays. Starting from their own 13-yard line, Beloit moved the ball methodically, taking 4:54 off the clock on a 13-play, 87-yard drive that ended when running back Mason Dixon crossed the goal line for the one-yard touchdown run. Dixon had seven carries on the drive for 40-yards, and QB Evan Phillips completed three of five attempts for 27-yards to lead the drive.
The Scots immediately responded behind their rapidly emerging quarterback Samson Bialostok. The senior completed all three of his passes, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Victor Bordo to tie the score. Bialostok also completed a 17-yard pass to Ben Hillman and a 23-yarder to Tre Nowaczynski to give him 66-yards passing on the drive.
The Scots added a 25-yard field goal from Michael Abramson on their next possession to take a 10-7 lead, but from there the Buccaneers began to take control of the game. Beloit moved 11-plays and 63-yards on their drive, but a fumble at the Macalester two was recovered by Trey Muraoka keeping the Bucs out of the end zone. However, on their next drive they would get in.
A fumble created by Alan Ham at the Scots 24 would give the ball right back to the Beloit offense and this time Beloit would not be denied. Phillips completed his first two passes of the drive to move the ball to the Scots five. Four plays later Dixon crossed the goal line again on a fourth and one to put the Buccaneers back on top 14-10.
Another fumble deep in Scots territory would give the ball back to Beloit, this time at the Macalester 17-yard line. Three plays later Phillips hit Ryan Sughroue for a 14-yard touchdown pass and it was now 21-10.
The first-half was rapidly getting out of control and following a missed field goal attempt to close out the half, the Scots went to the locker room wondering what was happening. For the second weekend in a row a quick start had gone south after the first quarter and the team went to the break looking for answers. Fortunately for the Scots, the answer came in their senior quarterback.
Whatever was said at half by the coaches took hold on the team, and the defense came out fired up, as did Bialostok. Michael Nolden returned the opening kickoff 22 yards to the Beloit 31. After recording a first down, Ryan Fleming made an outstanding play to intercept a pass by Phillips and returned it 28 yards to the Buccaneers 30-yard line. Three plays later Bialostok found Nowaczynski for a 26-yard touchdown pass, and less than two minutes into the second-half the Scots were back within four.
The defense smothered the Beloit offense on their next possession, forcing another three-n-out. The Scots QB then led a six-play drive that moved the ball to the Bucs 11, before it stalled. Abramson hit a 29-yard field goal to cut the deficit to one, and the momentum had clearly swung back to the Scots. Despite coming away with a field goal, it was clear that Bialostok was feeling it. His 32-yard completion to Hillman moved the ball to the BC 13, and in two second-half possessions he already had 56-yards passing.
Two possessions later the Scots would take the ball at their own 25, but this time the offense would turn to the ground game and their bruising tailback Zandy Stowell. The Scots ran on all five plays of the drive, with Stowell carrying the ball three times for 71-yards, including a 40-yard touchdown dash to give his team the lead. Following a successful two point conversion pass from Bialostok to Hillman, the Scots took the lead by eight.
The Macalester offense would have the ball two more times in the fourth quarter and would come away with no points, but they held onto the ball for nearly 12 minutes, giving the Buccaneers no chance to get back into the game. This was especially true considering the job that the Scots defense was doing.
After giving up three first-half touchdowns Defensive Coordinator Marshall Mullenbach’s group slammed the door in the faces of the Beloit offense in the second half, forcing them to punt on their final five possessions of the game. Including the drive that resulted in Ryan Fleming’s interception, the Macalester defense forced five straight three-n-outs, and held the Buccaneers to just 75 yards of total offense in the second half on 21 plays. It was a smothering effort that helped to rally the team to victory.
Several stars shined for the Scots offense this day. Stowell finished with 219 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown. Bialostok completed 14-26 passes for 249-yards and two touchdowns. He also added 44 more yards rushing on seven carries. Hillman had seven catches for 104 yards and Nowaczynski had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Enough cannot be said of the Scots offensive line that created huge holes for Stowell, and gave Bialostok plenty of time to throw.
On defense linebacker Ryan Fleming led the way with 13 tackles and the huge interception. Safety Jole Miller added seven tackles and a pass break-up.
The game may not have gone as Coach Jennison wanted, especially in the first-half, but the Scots now move to 5-1, and are now 2-0 in the Midwest Conference. Riding a four-game winning streak, Macalester will welcome Lawrence College to St. Paul next Saturday looking to move to 6-1 for the first time in nearly 30 years. A victory will create a huge showdown the following weekend between the Scots and Carroll University for what should be the North Division title.
By Robert Pannier