The University of Minnesota, Morris football team withstood a last-minute drive to hold off the Scots of Macalester 3-0 Friday at the Metrodome.
"In the game of football, you fail a lot but you also succeed a lot," said coach Todd Hickman. "You just got to believe."
Kicker Matt Privratsky, who had banged an earlier field goal off the uprights with 6:59 left in the fourth quarter, tallied the Cougars' only points from 37 yards out with just 1:04 remaining.
But that was still enough time for the Scots to mount a field-length drive, finding themselves with a first and 10 at the UMM 15-yard line with 15 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing play, safety Nate Lund blitzed from the left side, turning Macalester quarterback Trevor Miehe toward the inside and into the pursuit of Cougar defensive lineman Josh Ledin who sacked Miehe for a nine-yard loss. After a Scots timeout with eight seconds left, Miehe found tight end Matt Mitchell open behind the Cougar secondary, but Mitchell dropped the ball, leaving the Scots with three seconds and a field goal chance that went wide left as time expired.
Offensively, the Cougars struggled in the air. Fullback Ernest Tucker had 130 yards on 24 carries running behind a line that opened holes off tackle and around the ends. Yet, for three quarters, the Cougars could not manage to put points on the board.
Sophomore quarterback Ted Hoffman took the helm in the fourth quarter and on the game-winning drive connected with tight end Brady Rose for a 23-yard gain, compounded for another 15 yards on a Macalester personal foul. Another Hoffman pass for eight yards to John Russow and a key first down put UMM within field goal range. After a couple Tucker rushes, Privratsky took the field for his winning kick.
On an afternoon when the Cougars struggled to score, the defense repeatedly came up with big stops and turnovers to keep the Scots off the board.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Scots drove to the UMM 15-yard line facing a fourth down. Macalester elected to kick a field goal. Screaming in from the right side, Cougar defensive back Todd Gramenz blocked the attempt and Lund scooped up the ball and ran it back 18 yards.
On the next Macalester series, with the Scots on their own 22, linebacker Adam Gertken forced a fumble that was recovered by Ledin. Unfortunately, Privratsky's kick was no good on the ensuing possession.
Macalester, feeling some momentum after the miss, came out throwing. After converting a third and 15 from their own 15-yard line, the Scots tried to go deep up the right sidelines on a wheel route, but Gramenz, running stride for stride with the Macalester receiver, intercepted the pass, giving the ball back to the Cougars with two minutes left for what would be the game-winning drive.
"[The defense] played very inspired football," said defensive coordinator Raven Battle after the game. "We make the game plan so they can play fast and that's what they did. We try to make a few calls and put them in position. But I can't take credit, those guys did all this, they played their hearts out. It's their win."
The victory improves the Cougars' record to 3-5 on the year. Next weekend they make a long road trip to MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. UMM finishes the 2009 season at home two weeks from Saturday against Lawrence College.