Football loses defensive showdown to Rhodes 14-0, falls to .500

By Sam Frost

The Macalester football team suffered a tough 14-0 home loss to Rhodes College of Memphis, Tennessee this past Saturday, giving the team its third consecutive defeat and dropping them to 3-3 on the season. Despite the final score, the teams proved to be very evenly matched for much of the contest, with the Scots running more offensive plays, gaining more first downs, and forcing more turnovers than Rhodes, and trailing by a relatively slight margin in time of possession. Mac was down by only one touchdown for the vast majority of the game, and came close to pulling even on multiple occasions. “It was a very even game,” nose tackle Jason Schrad ’13 said. “They have good athletes, we have good athletes. Our lines and skill position players matched up really well.” “We could have won that game,” added linebacker Spencer Robinson ’13. “We just had some lapses on both sides of the ball that cost us.” After Rhodes jumped out to a 7-0 first quarter lead on a 53-yard touchdown run by running back Dane Wilson, the flow of the game slowed considerably, with the teams trading punts and turnovers for much of the next three quarters. The Mac offense moved the ball successfully on numerous occasions. The defense, other than giving up a couple big plays, generally held firm, repeatedly coming up with timely stops and turnovers and putting the offense in favorable field position. There were several points when the momentum appeared to swing in the Scots’ favor, including two first half defensive stands that prevented seemingly imminent Rhodes touchdowns. Offensively, Mac had the ball in Rhodes’ territory on seven different possessions, appearing ready to score. However, the team couldn’t manage to turn these chances into points, frequently failing to finish drives or capitalize on their opponents’ errors. The Scots’ 2-for-16 third down conversion rate, two missed field goals, and one costly interception deep in Lynx territory all contributed to these struggles. After missing opportunities in the first half, the Mac offense came out looking strong in the third quarter, moving quickly into Rhodes’ territory with an acrobatic 33-yard reception by John Johnson ’14. The drive stalled just as quickly as it had begun, and the Scots settled for a 42-yard field goal attempt. The kick sailed wide left, keeping the Scots scoreless and slowing their growing momentum. Macalester hung tough, and pieced together another solid possession midway through the fourth quarter, driving inside the Lynx 20-yard line with a chance to tie the game. Once again, the Scots had trouble with execution, and they turned the ball over on downs, ending their best opportunity for success on offense. In the end, it was Rhodes that made the deciding plays, putting the game out of reach with a brilliant 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Box to wide receiver Jonathan Weiner on a crucial 4th down and 2 with 2:29 left in the game. Mac, running out of time and needing a stop for any chance at tying the score, defensed the play well, but couldn’t stop the perfect execution by Box and Weiner. “That was just a great play, and there’s no defense for a great play,” Robinson said. Despite the disappointing loss, the team knows that the season is far from over, and is looking to regain its confidence and move on from their recent losing streak. On Tuesday, senior slot receiver Riley Koval ’13 talked to the team, seeking to inspire the Scots to make the most of the four games left. “I said [to the team], ‘It’s easy to look at these past three weeks and feel down. But we still have time to make a statement. We just need to play how we know we can, and we need to do it, every down, every possession, every game.’” Robinson was similarly optimistic about the rest of the season. “We can win every game left on our schedule,” Robinson said. “We need to get our confidence back as a team, and start firing as one full unit again.” This Saturday, the Scots face off against Trinity Bible College, hoping to get their winning percentage back above .500. Far from deeming the season to be lost, the team believes that the next four weeks could go down as some of most memorable in the history of Mac football. “The Mac record for wins in a season is seven games,” said Koval. You do the math. refresh –>