SPORTS

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October 21, 2008

Football blows out Macalester

Chicago’s 24–6 beat down of Macalester (3–4) in Saturday afternoon’s contest was, by all accounts, a dominating performance. The game started out as a defensive struggle, with Chicago (2–3) leading 3–0 near the end of the second quarter. Neither team seemed to be giving up much on defense, while both offenses struggled to find a rhythm.

Yet, on the Chicago 26-yard line, with less than five minutes in the half, second-year quarterback Trevor Miehe gave Macalester their only lead of the game when he converted a fake handoff to the left into a touchdown. Chicago’s defense bit on the fake, allowing Miehe’s long run down the right sideline.

“Only one guy messed up on that play,” first-year outside linebacker Cameron Grimes said.

But, on their subsequent extra-point attempt, the Macalester holder fumbled the ball and a Chicago special-teams player picked it up and raced down the field with blockers around him, bringing the ball down to the opponent’s 12-yard line. The play did not merit any statistical significance; it did not put any points on the board and was still followed by a Macalester kickoff from the 30-yard line. Rather, it exemplified the gutsy play Chicago exhibited all day and proved to be a catalyst for the offense on the following drive.

Not to be upstaged, Chicago’s offense answered Macalester’s touchdown with a scoring drive of its own. With less than three minutes remaining in the half, Maroon quarterback John Kiernan led the offense down the field on a 69-yard scoring drive to put Chicago up 10-6 near the end of the half. On that crucial drive, Kiernan made use of the quarterback scramble several times, evading three possible sacks on one play to bring the ball down to the Macalester 10-yard line.

The drive, and the game, were characterized by tough running and solid execution, capped off by a 3-yard plunge from first-year running back Francis Adarkwa, who tallied 135 yards rushing and three touchdowns on only 22 carries. In total, Chicago achieved a balanced attack on offense by amassing 197 yards on the ground and 182 yards through the air, all while facing a Macalester defense that loaded the line of scrimmage with seven and eight men in the box.

At halftime, it was evident that both the home fans and the home team exuded confidence, and the Maroons stormed into the second half with a hunger fueled by an air of dissatisfaction.

Coming out of halftime, head coach Dick Maloney said, “We were not satisfied with how we had played in the first half and I told the guys that we needed to play faster.”

The offense, eager to extend the momentum it had built up at the close of the second quarter and to also respond to Maloney’s locker-room challenge, willed the ball down the field on an 81-yard scoring drive.

With about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, trailing Chicago 24–6, Macalester was content to milk the clock with three straight running plays, an offensive white flag prompted by a Chicago defense that has allowed only 13 points in the last two games.

“We’re only as strong as our weakest link. We didn’t allow any big plays, and we got turnovers,” Grimes said.

Questions remain for the Maroons, who were struggling prior to the last two games. After dropping three straight contests to open the season, which included a high-scoring affair against a beatable Kenyon team and a loss to an overpowering 6th-ranked Wabash squad, the Maroons entered their bye week disappointed and worn out. It was a week of practice, however, that turned their season around, especially after losing starting running–back Tommy Parks to a torn ACL in the first quarter of the Wabash game.

“The coaches tested our mental toughness. We went back to the basics and worked on our fundamentals,” first-year right guard Stefan Mitrovic said.

During homecoming weekend, Chicago translated what they went over in practice into an inspired performance against Oberlin, a total dismantling of their opponent in a 33–7 blowout.

“The team that you were at the beginning of the season is not the one you become as the season goes on,” Mitrovic said.

As the Maroons look forward to their next game against Denison on November 1, they aim to extend their winning streak on the road and to keep the momentum rolling from the previous contests.

“It’ll be a bit of an adventure, but it’ll be fun,” Maloney said.