On paper, the SMB-Wolfpack were big favorites to continue their undefeated season when they went on the road to face winless St. Paul Highland Park. To the surprise of everyone – especially the Wolfpack players – the Scots got out to a 6-0 lead and early on made things difficult for the Wolfpack’s offense. Eventually, SMB would right the ship and win the game going away. Here are some highlights from some of the individuals who stood out.
To start, Jalen Suggs overthrew an open receiver on a crossing route. He scrambled for a short gain. Because of penalties and being under constant pressure in the first half, Suggs was not able to get much going with his arm. He spun out of a sure sack, got down the sidelines and ran over a defensive back for a twenty-yard gain. Scrambling again, he found wide receiver Craig McDonald in the middle of the field. McDonald settled into an empty area in the middle of the field, and Suggs found him. With the run after catch, the play resulted in a 40-yard touchdown. Suggs did put the ball on the ground once, but the offense recovered the fumble. Later, Suggs avoided pressure and rolled out and – without being able to set his feet – threw across his body for a completion. On 3rd and 25, Suggs hit Brock Brumley on a post pattern right in stride and nearly scores on a 67 yard gain. Finally, Savion Robinson made a catch on a seam route placed perfectly by Suggs.
“I tried to find open guys quickly and speed up my thought process and hit guys quicker,” Suggs said about dealing with a pass rush that was in his face most of the afternoon. “I relied on my natural instincts and just did what I know best which is play football.”
McDonald lined up at wide receiver, as a running back, as a quarterback, and as a corner. On offense he took a handoff on a draw play and although it was called back, it showed McDonald’s straight-line speed. The junior eats up a lot of ground with his long strides. Lined up at running back again he found a hole right up the middle for a 54-yard touchdown run behind Aiden Lowery and Aaron Arnold. In a goal-line situation, McDonald lined up at quarterback – something he regularly did when Suggs was out the first three games of the season – and threw a fade to Suggs. Suggs out jumped and was more physical than the smaller corner for the touchdown.
“That was my first touchdown catch since 8th grade,” Suggs said. “That was a lot of fun. We put that in this week. We thought it would be big. They don’t have the biggest corners, so we got a matchup we liked, and Craig gave me a great ball, and we put six points on the board.”
Later, McDonald made a nice cutback when he should have been stopped for a loss. Isaac Reed and Aiden Lowery opened the big hole for McDonald.
At corner, McDonald came up strong and made a tackle on an off tackle run. He showed excellent closing speed and anticipation defending a comeback route. Highland Park ran and threw away from McDonald most of the game.
“We play a lot of man,” McDonald said, “so I lock my man up, and when we are in zone as long as they don’t get it on my side I am good.”
Will Wamre was in quickly on a pass rush. He didn’t make the tackle, but he forced the quarterback out of the pocket.
Defensive end Andrew Mollison pressured the quarterback and didn’t get the sack but was the reason the play was made. Later Mollison and defensive tackle Kevvan Anderson got into the backfield, and Mollison got the tackle for loss. Then Mollison set the edge and force a sweep back inside.
Anderson stuffed an inside handoff for a loss. He was in the backfield again and forced a fumble. On the last play of the half, Anderson intercepted a ball tipped at the line of scrimmage. In the second half he tracked down a running back from behind. Middle linebacker Bennett Theisen then finished the play off with a huge hit.
Theisen scooped up a fumble and scored a touchdown, and late in the game dropped into the hook zone and read the crossing route. He undercut the route for an inception and his second touchdown.
“I am happy with my game,” Theisen said. “I was getting a little annoyed because all their runs were to the outside, but after a while, I picked up on that. I started to meet them there and ended up getting quite a few tackles in the second half.”
Lowery made an impact on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He showed good pursuit and hustle by chasing down the quarterback for a sack.
Bobby Chancellor did a nice job stringing out a sweep allowing teammates to rally to make the tackle. Later he made a tackle in space. Late in the game, he was unblocked off the edge. Along with Cole McKinney, who was coming from the opposite side, they each picked up a half sack.
On a pair of sweeps, Trevon Howard dropped runners for big losses.