Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

Special teams key in upset

Bernell Dorrough

Combining a stifling defense and a powerful running attack, Washington University downed MacMurray College 17-7 for its first win of the season.

The road win evened the Bears’ record at 1-1 and also stopped the Highlanders 20-game regular season winning streak. MacMurray was 10-1 last season, losing in the playoffs after a perfect regular season, which included an away win over the Bears.

“MacMurray always has a heightened atmosphere when they play Washington University,” said Bears’ coach Larry Kindbom

The Bears got on the board first when senior running back Matt Plotke capping an 11 play, 55 yard drive with a 15 yard touchdown run. Plotke piled up 117 yards on 21 carries for the day to lead the ground attack.

On the defensive side, the Bears held MacMurray to a meager 172 yards of total offense. MacMurray’s running game was limited to just 64 yards on 37 attempts. The Bears’ defense proved equally effective in thwarting the MacMurray passing game. MacMurray quarterback Jarod Tapia was 9 of 27 for a meager 108 yards while being sacked five times by the Bears.

Though the Bears’ offense and defense were more than solid, poor special teams play continued to plague the Bears against MacMurray. Kindbom said, “Special teams played a large part with the ebb and flow of the game.”

While the team struggled on punt returns in their first game, this week it was punting that put the Bears in trouble. Junior Richard Worth had his punt blocked early in the second quarter, with MacMurray taking over at the Bears’ own 39-yard line. Yet, the Bears’ defense came up big to defuse MacMurray’s scoring opportunity. Freshman Jon Lloyd notched a key sack on third down to force MacMurray to punt.

MacMurray received an even better scoring chance late in the second quarter when Worth was tackled on the Bears’ own two yard line after a bad snap on a punt attempt. This time, MacMurray was able to capitalize on the Bears’ punting miscue and scored on a 5-yard pass to Anthony Ballerino to tie the game at 7-7.

“We thought special teams were going to be very, very important and they were, but not in the way we wanted them to,” head coach Larry Kindbom said. “We had a tough time with punting.”

The Bears recaptured the lead in the third quarter when Ben Lambert connected on a career-long 46 yard field goal. Lambert is a perfect four for four from beyond 40 yards for his career.

Following the Bears’ field goal, MacMurray drove right back, marching 56 yards on 11 plays. Yet, the Bears special teams came up big, blocking Chris Crowe 26-yard field goal attempt. Kindbom said, “our blocked field goal was a big play in the game…it was a lift for our football team.”

On the ensuing possession, the Bears ran the ball five consecutive times, chewing up 39 yards, before new starting quarterback junior Adam Meranda hit sophomore wide receiver Brad Duesing on a 41-yard touchdown strike. Meranda, at the helm for the injured Matt Alley, completed 10 of 18 passes for 104 yards with no interceptions. Kindbom said, “He is going to improve every week [... ] he has made terrific strides in the last couple of weeks.”

Duesing again led the team in receiving with 6 receptions for 67 yards. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.

Kindbom had praise for both team’s performances.

“We didn’t turn the ball over, but neither did they,” Kindbom said. “It was a well-played football game.”

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