The SMB Wolfpack did not get off to the start they wanted Saturday afternoon against the winless St. Paul Highland Park Scots. The Scots were able to hang with the undefeated Wolfpack for a quarter and a half until the Wolfpack would right the ship and dominate the final three quarters on their way to a 35-6 win.
The underdog Scots started their homecoming off right by taking the opening kickoff back to mid-field and then using the good field position to score an opening drive touchdown. The Scots were able to take advantage of their small, quick offensive line and get to the edge in their running game to set up the touchdown.
On defense, the Scots used that same quickness on the defensive line to play on the Wolfpack’s side of the line of scrimmage in the first quarter. They also kept Wolfpack quarterback Jalon Suggs under constant pressure – keeping the high-powered SMB offense off balance.
“Our starting left tackle had been sick all week,” Suggs said. “He came out and ground it out. Our starting center was out. The offensive line picked it up after the first quarter. I just tried to find open guys quick, speed up my thought process and hit guys quicker.”
SMB’s struggles were not all the Scots’ doing. SMB couldn’t get out of its own way with penalties high jacking every early possession.
Eventually – the Wolfpack took over.
Although Suggs rarely had time to simply drop back and pass in the first half, his athletic ability led to their first touchdown. The initial routes were covered by the Scots defensive backs – who played well all game – but Suggs scrambled around, and with the initial routes breaking down, SMB’s Craig McDonald found some open space and settled down in the middle of the field. Suggs found him, and McDonald did the rest with his legs.
Everything built off the Wolfpack defense. It took most of the first half for them to get comfortable defending the outside run of the Scots. Highland Park still moved the ball well in the first half, but eventually, the undefeated visitors were able to set the edge and shut down the Scots’ running game.
“We always depend on our defense,” SMB’s do everything junior McDonald said. “Up front, we are so dominate with our linebackers too. As a defensive back, we just need to hold it down.”
The defense ended up outscoring the Scots’ offense with two defensive touchdowns by linebacker Bennett Theisen.
Theisen’s first score was a fumble recovery he was able to scoop up and return for a touchdown. Later he intercepted a pass for a touchdown.
“I made a good read,” Theisen said about his interception. “The receiver came from the backfield and came kind of on a go route.”
McDonald – who also starts at corner – scored his second touchdown lined up in the backfield. He took a handoff, found a hole up the middle and scored on a 54-yard touchdown run.
A fumble forced by defensive tackle Kevvan Anderson – who also intercepted a tipped pass on the last play of the first half – set up another Wolfpack touchdown. Inside the ten, Suggs motioned out to wide receiver and McDonald – who filled in at quarterback for Suggs when he was injured early in the season – took the shotgun snap and threw a fade to Suggs who had single coverage on the outside. Suggs out jumped the smaller corner for the score.
“That was my first catch since about 8th grade,” Suggs said. “That was a lot of fun. We implemented that this week. They don’t have the biggest corners, and I got a mismatch and Craig threw me a great ball.”
With the victory, the Wolfpack moved to a record of 5-0 and Highland Park dropped to 0-5.