Macalester Scots Cross Border Looking to Clinch North Division Title
Following an impressive win against No. 24 Carroll University, the Macalester Scots face their final challenge on their quest to claim the North Division title in the Midwest Conference (MWC). This weekend they will cross the border into Wisconsin to face St. Norbert in a battle that will determine who will win the North Division crown.
This past weekend the Scots gained their biggest win in Head Coach Tony Jennison’s tenure, as they jumped out to an early lead over the Pioneers in route to a 34-17 win. The victory put Macalester in the driver’s seat for the division title, as they are the only team that enters the final weekend without a conference loss. St. Norbert lost earlier in the season to Carroll, and of course the Pioneers lost last weekend to the Scots.
The victory was the probably the most complete performance by the Macalester football team all season. The defense held Carroll to just 291 yards of offense, the first time the team had been held under 300 yards this season. The Scots offense rolled to 302 yards on the ground and got a perfectly thrown 82-yard touchdown pass from Samson Bialostok to Victor Bordo on the first offensive play of the game to guide the team to victory.
The special teams came up huge for Macalester as well. Michael Abramson was named MWC special team’s player of the week, hitting two field goals and making perfect punts that gave star returner Lamont Williams no room to make plays. Coach Jennison even showed some real moxie, going for the onside kick following a touchdown that put the Scots up 24-10. The onside kick was successful, and despite the team not being able to score on the drive, it proved that Coach Jennison has some tricks up his sleeve, and that he is not afraid to go for the throat when he has the chance.
With the big victory in hand the challenge now moves to St. Norbert. Even before the two teams take the field, Coach Jennison enters with the feeling that his team is a little overconfident after the season-defining victory over Carroll. Keeping his team motivated and practicing hard has been the challenge this week. “It was a big win, but I think our team has gotten a little conceited about the victory. It is a challenge to get them refocused and to give as much this week as they gave leading up to last Saturday.”
While St. Norbert is not nationally ranked and doesn’t boast an undefeated record, they are no less threatening to Macalester’s six-game win streak than the Pioneers were. This is a very good team that suffered early losses because of the competition they played. They had early season losses to Carroll (7-1), Illinois College (6-2) and Cornell College (5-2). Those are outstanding teams, so it is quite understandable that they would lose two of those games, especially considering that two of them were on the road.
If that isn’t enough reason to be worried, the Green Knights are deadly at home, going 16-2 since 2011. They are 3-1 this year, losing early in the season to South Division leading Illinois College, but were undefeated at home the two previous seasons. They have not lost two games at home in the same season since 2010. It will also be Senior Day, meaning the Green Knights will be incredibly fired up and ready to battle in front of their home crowd that should exceed 3000. This may be the perfect storm that Macalester doesn’t want to see.
The Scots tied the school record for wins in a season last week with seven, and have proven that they can deliver on the road, going 3-1 this year. They have admittedly played down to opponents this season when playing on the road, and will need to put up an incredible performance from start to finish to take this game home.
While the game with Carroll was exceptional and brought some much deserved recognition to the Macalester Scots football team, this may be the tougher contest. There is no doubt they will come ready to play, because if they don’t they will most assuredly go home disappointed. A division title is on the line with a shot at going to the conference title game. Little did Macalester know that when they won against Carroll last weekend that the playoffs had just begun for them.
By Robert Pannier