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Scots Football Team Expects Another Tough Challenge at Carroll
Monmouth College football coach Steve Bell has built a successful program by focusing on one game at a time, and that philosophy won't change on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. when the Fighting Scots meet Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis.

The last time Monmouth played in Waukesha, the Scots squeezed out a 6-3 win on Nate Palkovic's 25-yard field goal with 4:28 left in the game. Bell vividly remembers that win.

"That was a dogfight," claimed Bell. "It's a good thing to have a good kicker. They've always played us tough."

While Bell - now in his 10th season at Monmouth - remembers that victory, he hasn't been adding up his win total. The Scots' head coach has compiled a 71-25 record and is tied for second with his predecessor, Kelly Kane, for the most victories at Monmouth. Only Bill Reichow's 78 wins is higher. Bell's latest milestone came without notice as he prepped for the next big game.

"I really dont pay attention to records and that kind of stuff," said Bell, who took a moment away from his scouting reports. "Obviously, it's a reflection on the players and staff we have here and the commitment they all have made to building our program."

The Scots have certainly built the program, ranked 11th by D3football.com and 13th by the American Football Coaches Association. The Scots have rolled to a 3-0 record, allowing just 3 points in their two Midwest Conference games and scoring an average of 57 points in those contests.

Monmouth's balanced attack in last week's 58-0 win over Beloit rolled up 555 yards of offense - 298 via the pass and 257 on the ground. Five rushing TDs and three aerial scores added to the balance.

"I'm VERY pleased that we've run the ball well two games in a row," said Bell. "That takes pressure off the quarterback and our passing game. We have talented running backs and we had five rushing touchdowns. That's key."

Key, too, was the defensive play, holding Beloit to just 190 yards and forcing three turnovers - the first stopping Beloit's opening drive deep in Monmouth territory, setting up the Scots' eight-play, 94-yard scoring drive.

Carroll won a see-saw battle of winless teams last week, downing Grinnell in Waukesha 28-21. The two teams traded scores in the first half, with Carroll taking the lead for good when Chris Casper hit Tyler Ostrander for a 26-yard TD at the start of the fourth quarter.

"Casper did a good job against us last year," said Bell. "They have always, ALWAYS, played us tough up there. Not that we haven't played well up there, it's just that they always play us extremely well."

Monmouth's defense will get a test from the Pioneers' multiple offensive looks. Sophomore running back Joe Beckstrand leads the ground game, averaging nearly 94 yards per game, while Casper is a dual threat quarterback. The junior is the Pioneers' second-leading rusher behind Beckstrand and has completed nearly 50 percent of his passes for more than 400 yards. His favorite target has been sophomore wideout Geoff Stuhr. His 12 catches and 191 yards are nearly more than the rest of the entire receiving corps.

"They've got big, strong kids who are very good athletes," reported Bell. "Carroll has got to be feeling confident after a win last week. We do not need them to start hitting their stride against us. We'll have to be on our toes and be aligned properly defensively. We have to come ready to play."

Defensively, the Pioneers have been a sack machine - seven in three games. Senior Michael Otto leads that charge, recording four sacks from his linebacker spot. Five of their defenders have double-digit tackles led by 6-foot-1, 210-pound defensive back Brian Gajeski's 30 stops.

"Their outside linebackers and defensive backs are always very athletic," claimed Bell. "And they've always had really good defensive linemen."

Monmouth's offensive unit doesn't lack for depth or athleticism. Nineteen different players have handled the ball from the line of scrimmage this season - 20 if you count the punter, who also doubles as a defensive back. The Scots are on pace to break their scoring record set during last year's conference championship season and have racked up an average of more than 500 yards per game.

"Obviously, we have a good quarterback, but we have good running backs, too," said Bell. "If we continue to be balanced offensively, we should be productive. In order to be successful, we cannot be one dimensional. Teams will need to pick their poison - stop the pass, or stop the run."

The key for the Pioneers will be to find the antidote. Based on past performances against the Scots, they've come close to finding the cure.

(Monmouth College Athletics)
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