Football shuts out Macalester to extend win streak
Improving its win streak to four games and record to 5-2, Wash. U. has kept its playoff hopes alive with a win that head coach Larry Kindbom described as a “defining moment for the team.” Averaging 40 points per game in their previous three wins, the Bears’ offense was expected to continue its high-scoring success against a defense that was giving up nearly 25 points a game. While those expectations were not met, the Bears’ defense showed its dependability and toughness with its first shutout performance since 2009 against Rhodes College.
“It’s hard to describe how happy we were after that game,” Kindbom said. “It was absolutely amazing, and we were just drained and excited at the same time. It’s nice to have the feeling that we can win even in the toughest situation. We’ve shown that our offense can pick our team up, and we know what we have on special teams. Defense played phenomenal and kept us alive in the end.”
Down 7-0 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Macalester started the last drive on its own 35-yard line. After several successful runs and completions, the Scots found themselves in the red zone at the Bears’ 16-yard line. On the ensuing play, Macalester ran a quarterback draw play that put the Scots inches away from scoring a touchdown.
“At that point in the game, we knew that they were going to run the ball up in the middle or run another quarterback draw,” senior defensive back Tate Byers said. “We have a lot of pride in our goal- line defense, and I knew our guys were going to do whatever it takes to stop them.”
With defensive linemen Brian Douglas, a sophomore, and Seth Wight, a senior, preventing any running room and Byers and junior linebacker Fade Oluokun breaking up the quarterback draw plays, Wash. U.’s defense stifled the Scots’ offensive attack.
“[Defensive coordinator Jim Ryan] did a good job of putting us in the right plays, and we just had a bend but don’t break attitude,” senior defensive lineman Nelson Nwumeh said. “We just forced our will on every single play and it felt so unreal after stopping them four times. It felt like we were in a movie.”
Despite giving up 170 yards on the ground, Wash. U. held Macalester to only 68 yards passing, forcing the Scots to become one-dimensional and thus more predictable. In addition, the Bears forced three turnovers—two fumbles and an interception—and stopped the Scots on third down 11 out of 14 times with their two-linebacker blitz.
Offensively, the Red and Green had trouble consistently moving the ball for most of the game due to several holding and false start penalties and four turnovers—three fumbles and an interception. Nevertheless, the Bears persisted with their game plan to run the ball, picking up 124 yards. Even though Macalester covered Wash. U.’s receivers closely, senior quarterback Eric Daginella was efficient enough, completing 14 of his 23 passes.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and mental mistakes, so we couldn’t get in our tempo,” senior offensive lineman Jon Levin said. “In the end, Daginella did a good job of managing the game, and we dominated enough at the line of scrimmage to win the game.”
That domination wore the Scots’ defense down enough to let sophomore Cody Ratermann score a 15-yard touchdown run with eight minutes left in the fourth. While Kindbom was pleased with the unit’s running attack, he hopes to see his offense fix some of its mental mistakes.
“Going forward, I think we know what this team is capable of, but we need to make sure that we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot,” Kindbom said. “I think we have a lot of potential to finish the season strong, but right now we’re just focused on [Carnegie Mellon University] for next week, and we’ll see what happens then.”