The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

After 3-0 start, football team travels to Lewis and Clark

The Scots defeated Maranatha Baptist 49-6 last Saturday on the strength of four touchdown passes by quarterback Clark Bledsoe ’13, including a 37-yard strike to wide receiver Victor Bordo ’16 for his first collegiate touchdown catch.

With the win, the Scots extended their perfect record to 3-0, winning their games by an average margin of 39.7 to 8.3.

Bledsoe completed 20 of 24 passes in a little over two quarters of play for 218 yards against Maranatha, his third straight game without an interception. Offensive lineman Jeff Theismann ’13 was enthused about his quarterback’s performance.

“Any time you have as many incompletions as touchdown passes, you’re probably going to win,” Theismann said.

In addition to Bledsoe’s aerial display, defensive back Jole Miller ’15 snagged his second interception of the season, picking off a pass and returning it 58 yards from deep inside Macalester territory. He also tied for the team lead in tackles with linebacker Spencer Robinson ’13 by recording six.

Offensively, tight end Sam Marshall ’13 was “untackleable,” according to Theismann, en route to 54 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. First year running back Zandy Stowell ’16 gained 68 yards on the ground on 10 carries, good for a robust 6.8 yards per carry. And team-leading receiver C.J. Smith ’14 pulled down six passes, registering 90 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Although Macalester was expected to beat Maranatha, wide receiver Riley Koval ’13 was still pleased by how his team played.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do,” Koval said. “In years past, we’ve let teams like that hang around. We’ve maybe played down to their level, and we didn’t do that [on Saturday]. And seven people scored, so it was a complete effort.”

Defensive back David Melms ’13 felt similarly positive about the win.

“We did what we were supposed to,” Melms said. “I was really proud of how we went from just playing well enough, to just playing well.”

The team next heads west on September 22 to Portland, Oregon to play a 2-0 Lewis and Clark team for the second time in as many years.

Macalester looks to start 4-0 for the first time since 1898, all the way back when Grover Cleveland was President. Led by junior quarterback Keith Welch ‘14, a dual threat who led his team in passing and rushing last season, Lewis and Clark’s Pioneers look to be the biggest challenge for this Scots squad to date.

“The [Lewis and Clark] quarterback tore us up last year,” Robinson said. “I know that he had at least one rushing touchdown and he threw for a couple. His ability to extend the play really helped them.”

Last year, the Scots lost a hard-fought home game against Lewis and Clark. Macalester was down 24-7 before making a furious comeback to cut the lead down to three with 8:48 to play. However, the Pioneers ended up prevailing 37-28 on the strength of Welch’s 440 all-purpose yards.

The Scots are confident they can flip the script this year.

“We were right there,” Koval said. “We were just a couple of plays away.”

Theismann agreed with Koval’s assessment of last year’s game.

“We didn’t start the game well, and then we had two big injuries [to offensive lineman Adam McCullough ’13 and defensive lineman Jesse Russell ’14],” Theismann said. “We scored 21 of our 28 points in the second half, and we were definitely on our way back. We just gave up too many big plays. I definitely think we can win this year.”

If the Scots can play as well offensively on Saturday as they did last year, the team has to like its chances. Bledsoe threw for 205 yards on 17 of 23 passing the last time these two teams met, reaching the end zone three times.

The key to this game is obviously limiting Welch, a player who ranked seventh nationally in Division III football in total offense last year. The defense has been preparing for the game by studying film and practicing specific drills for a mobile quarterback.

“We’re telling the D-line to not get as much penetration so we can keep a good containment on him,” Robinson said. “And [we’re getting] lots of practice on the scramble drill…he scrambles all the time. If his first read’s not there, he likes to move around and try to make something happen.”

The team is well aware of the significance this game has on the program. Miller believes that it can act as a barometer for the team’s trajectory for the games and years to come, but put this matchup in a larger perspective.

“This Lewis and Clark game will tell us a lot about how we’re going to be in the future,” Miller said. “But I think we’re only going to move up, and we’ve made a lot of progress so far.”

The 19-player senior class is certainly encouraged by the program’s promise for the years to come. After a 2-8 2009 season (their freshman year), this team has already surpassed that year’s win total.

“The potential is really endless,” Koval said. “We can have the best season in Macalester history this year. We have the chance to finally turn the corner. Two years ago we had a winning record. Last year, we won the paint bucket [awarded to the winner of the annual Macalester/Hamline game, the program’s first win in the rivalry since 1998].”

Melms shared Koval’s belief in the upward direction of the program.

“Whether we have the team right now to go to the playoffs, or in three years, I think we’re creating the mentality that we can do that [make the playoffs],” Melms said. “As long as we have the coaching staff that we have, I feel totally optimistic about the direction this team is heading in.”

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