Scots dethrone Crown's undefeated season on :03 FG

By Patrick Murphy

At 3-1, Mac football is off to its best start in eight years. While the fast start may come as a surprise to some, for those who have followed the team over the past few years, it’s no shocker that the team has come out firing on the 2010 campaign. While the Scots had some successes of their own, it certainly looked as though they would have their hands full against the 11th-ranked scoring team in the nation last Friday, Crown. Only a few hours before game time, defensive lineman Will Dhonau ’12 forecasted a pure shootout without hesitation. Dhonau, who played in the game with a broken right arm, couldn’t have been more on-point.

Both offenses moved the ball at will. The Scots offense piled up a staggering 507 yards in total offense thanks to big performances by quarterback Clark Bledsoe ’13, wide receiver Mike Snavely ’12, and running backs T Joe Loiselle ’12 and Jake McDonnell ’11. Bledsoe threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns, two to Snavely, who led the team with 57 yards receiving on the evening. The two-headed monster of Loiselle and McDonnell ripped apart the Crown defense on the ground the entire game. Loiselle went off for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and McDonnell added insult to Crown’s injury with a 100-yard performance and score of his own.

Despite the big performances, the game was tied 41-41 after a Crown score with 26 seconds to play. Instead of playing for overtime, the Scots went for broke, airing it out on consecutive plays to advance to the Crown 26 with less than 10 seconds to play. Going for the win, head coach Tony Jennison made the call for kicker Auburn Jimenez ’14 to do his best Adam Vinatieri impression on a 43-yard field goal, his longest try of the year.

“I had been standing on the sideline hoping that I would just get a chance,” said Jimenez. “When I went out there, I completely forgot about everything other than the kick. Right when the ball left my foot, I knew it was straight, but I wasn’t sure if it had the distance.” As it turned out, the kick had just enough distance, barely clearing the uprights with three seconds to play, locking up the dramatic victory for the Scots.

“It literally kissed the crossbar going over,” wide receiver Kevin Finnegan ’11 said. “Everyone just went nuts, storming the field even though there were still three seconds to play.”

After dropping the season opener to Grinnell (IA) 35-45, the Scots have rattled off three consecutive home wins. The winning streak is especially impressive considering that four-year starting quarterback Trevor Miehe ’10 went down for the season with a foot injury in the second game of the year against Cornell. Giving Bledsoe his first sustained action as a starter, he has thrown for 534 yards and five touchdowns through two and a half games, and has led the team to wins in all three games that he has appeared in.

“He’s just a smooth criminal in the backfield,” said Snavely. “Always calm, cool, and collected, with athleticism to boot. He’s shown he has what it takes to lead us down the stretch, and I’m on board.”

Bledsoe’s performance has certainly gone a long way to winning over the trust of his teammates, which is crucial for the success of any quarterback.

“I’ve just done my best to stay calm in every situation,” said Bledsoe. “A lot of credit has to go to the offensive unit as a whole. When Trevor went down, we picked up right where we left off.”

The offensive line, anchored by Joey Shearer ’11, Pete Goldberg ’11, Collin Murphy ’11, and Karl Reichter ’12, hasn’t given up a sack through four games. The effort has been appreciated by the signal caller behind them.

“Its great to have guys that you really respect blocking for you,” said Bledsoe. “People outside of the team don’t know how much work they put in, but it’s spectacular.”

Shearer attributes the success to a chemistry that has developed over the last few years.

“What’s making the o-line so effective right now is our familiarity with one another and trust,” said Shearer. “The o-line, above any other position, is about working as a group- there are no individuals; we’re a unit. Pete, Karl, Murphy and I have been playing together now for three years. We’ve seen almost everything a team can throw at you.”

Tomorrow’s game against Hamline gives the surging Scots their first opportunity to beat a MIAC opponent since 2002.

“Hamline is a really physical football team, and I think we need to come out and out hit them from the first play on,” linebacker Nate Sands ’12 said. “If we are able to come out right from the start and play Macalester football for four quarters, it should be a great day for the Scots.