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Alma seeks fifth win in Chicago

More news about: Alma

• Game Notes (PDF)

Alma, Mich. - The Alma College football team has a load of confidence as it heads into this weekend's non-conference matchup at Concordia University Chicago to continue its three-game road trip. The Scots roll into Cougar Stadium with wins in their last two outings and a record over .500 after seven games for the first time since 2009.

Alma is also coming off of the biggest win in over a decade with its 34-25 victory at Hope last Saturday, recording the school's first win in Holland since 1996.

"I think our kids feel very confident right now," said Head Coach Greg Pscodna, who is in the midst of his winningest season at the helm of the Alma program. "We have to make sure we play 60 hard minutes of football."

The Scots have shown plenty of offense in their last two games, averaging 35 points and 574 yards of offense in their last two victories. Last week, Alma put up 656 yards, fourth-most in school history, including 441 through the air, while the week before, the Scots rolled up nearly 500 yards against Kalamazoo, most of it through the passing game.

Leading the way offensively has been sophomore quarterback Dylan Zaborowski (Jackson, Mich./Michigan Center) who has posted back-to-back career games. Over the last two games, Zaborowski has put up big numbers, completing 60 of his 99 passes for 769 yards and five touchdowns while only throwing one interception. Last week, he posted his first career 400-yard game passing game and recorded the 10th best passing totals in Alma history.

"Dylan is feeling much more comfortable in the offense and we've got some playmakers - some guys who can catch the ball and (Nick) Sullivan who can run it," Pscodna said. "Our offensive line is coming together, and we have to be able to block to make those plays. If we can continue to do that, hopefully we will have a good game."

While Zaborowski has been spreading the ball around to seniors Erik Hines (Menominee, Mich./Menominee) and Sean McDonald(Gladwin, Mich./Gladwin), sophomore Daniel Hugan (Ann Arbor, Mich./Ann Arbor Huron) rebounded last week after being ejected against Kalamazoo to catch 16 passes for 235 yards - the second most by a receiver in Alma history. Add to the mix junior Nick Sullivan (Flushing, Mich./Flint Powers Catholic), who had a quiet 109 yards on 20 carries for his third 100-yard game of the season and the Scots are firing on all cylinders offensively.

"The biggest thing is what are they playing on defense," Pscodna said. "If they trying to put six or seven guys at the line of scrimmage to take away the run, then that opens up the pass game. The key for us at the beginning of the year was that we could run the ball effectively, and now defenses are trying to stop that. If they try to stop the passing game, then we can get back to the run. I think we have a lot of flexibility in our offense to do both."

One of the trends that has emerged over the past two games is the Scots' ability to seal the victory. Against Kalamazoo, the Hornets pulled to within three points mid-way through the fourth quarter, while at Hope, the Dutch kept the game within two scores as they tried to mount a comeback. In each occasion, Alma was able to either score or make a key defensive stop to secure the win, something that has not happened in past seasons.

"That has to do with having some senior leadership - the guys that have been there before and saw that we came out on the wrong side of things and said that we aren't going to do that anymore," Pscodna said. "I give credit to our seniors for sticking with the program and now they're starting to reap some of the rewards."

While the Scots head into River Forest search for their first three-game winning streak since 2007, Concordia-Chicago seems to be heading in the other direction, losing five of their last six games, including four straight. The Cougars will likely rely on the arm of freshman quarterback Peyton Seidler, who has seen action in six games this year, while his primary targets will be junior Rashad Lofton and sophomore Ryan Allison, who pace the Cougars in receiving and also handle the return duties for Concordia. 

The Cougars get most of their yards through the air, which will provide a test for Alma, which has the 15th-ranked passing defense in NCAA Division III. Last week, however, Alma held proved it could stop the MIAA's best receiver, as junior Aaron Davis (Detroit, Mich./Redford) blanketed Hope's Matt Kroll and recorded a career-high three pass breakups. The Scots have recorded an interception in every game this season, and have gotten to the quarterback more than any other team in the MIAA with 29 sacks, a mark that ranks seventh in the country.

"They (Concordia) have got a lot of young guys playing and their offense is a lot like ours ," Pscodna said. "Hopefully our defense is ready. We've had a good week of practice and we've just got to keep the momentum going. It's a new Saturday and you've got to come ready to play great football."

This week's game is part of an agreement between the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. The two leagues play in a Challenge Series, which took place on September 19, and then the schools from each league play in an interlocking format during the week where they have a bye in their conference schedule. Last season, the Scots traveled to River Forest and came away with a 24-21 victory.

Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. (Eastern) at Cougar Stadium on the campus of Concordia University Chicago. The game will be broadcast life on WLML 1520 AM, with Colin Hinman calling the action.

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