Macalester and Hamline renewed the Snelling Ave. football competition for the 114th time on Saturday afternoon at Mac's stadium. The first game was played in 1887. It has not yet been announced if this ancient rivalry will continue next season and for the forseeable future.
Macalester is moving to the Midwest Conference as a football member in 2014. The Division III schools in Minnesota basically have stuck to a 10-game regular season schedule. The Fighting Scots will have a nine-game conference commitment in the Midwest.
That would mean the elimination of either Hamline, the opponent for the Paint Bucket Trophy, or Carleton, Mac's opponent for the Book of Knowledge. Since Macalester's annual game with Hamline predates the one with Carleton by 80 years or so, common sense would suggest an annual game with the Pipers. Then again, pomposity would suggest continuing to play for something called the Book of Knowledge.
[UPDATE: Two employees in Macalester athletic department told me on Saturday that the Fighting Scots would be required to play either Hamline OR Carleton starting in 2014 and that there was not yet a schedule.
As it turns out, that's probably not the case. I received an e-mail late Saturday night with a tentative 2014 schedule that has the Fighting Scots opening with games against Carleton and then Hamline. Here's that schedule:
Sept. 6-Carleton, home. Sept. 13-at Hamline. Sept. 27-Grinnell. Oct. 4-Knox, home. Oct. 11-at Ripon. Oct. 18-at Beloit. Oct. 25-Lawrence, home. Nov. 1-Carroll, home. Nov. 8-at St. Norbert. Nov. 15-Midwest Conference crossover game, based on division standings.]
Macalester came into Saturday's game with a two-year winning streak over Hamline -- a 17-0 shutout in 2011 and with a 45-21 blowout in 2012. That was the last game for coach John Pate, who was hired with a background in Dixie and was a coach out of water in these northern climes.
Chad Rogosheske, a Hamline graduate, got the job. He won his first game, 41-33 over Minnesota-Morris. And then, four games into the MIAC schedule, the Pipers defeated St. Olaf 31-28 to end a 28-game conference losing streak.
Last weekend, Hamline put a scare into St. John's before losing 20-14. So, the Pipers were deserving of the small praise that they were improved -- even with losses of 63-7 to concordia, 52-7 to Gustavus Adolphus and 55-6 to Bethel on the resume.
Meantime, Macalester had journeyed backwards, going only 3-6 against the much-softer independent schedule the Scots had played since leaving MIAC football in 2001. The victories were against Crown, Maranatha and Trinity Bible. The losses included a 56-17 battering from Carleton.
Everything considered, Hamline came in as a slight favorite on Saturday -- if for no other reason than Austin Duncan, a sophomore running back from New Orleans who entered this game with 1,302 yards rushing. He worked his stout frame off again in Saturday's rain, carrying 37 times for 158 yards.
The young man is a bull -- 6-foot, 220 (at least) -- but after a time, the Scots were sending a half-dozen tacklers after Duncan, knowing the Pipers had little else to offer offensively. Adrian Peterson never got as much attention as Duncan did by the second half of this rain-soaked game.
Hamline would have gotten away with at least a scoreless tie, if it had decided to go back to the guidelines of the first meeting with Macalester in 1887 and forego the forward pass. The Pipers completed five of their 23 passes to other Pipers, and they also had five accepted by Macalester defensive backs -- two interceptions apiece for Bolton Howes and Jole Miller, and one by Konnor Fleming.
How do you like those handles: Bolton, Jole and Konnor. Sounds like lunch gathering at Pine Valley Golf Club.
And the Mac quarterback ... when I heard his name, I thought he might be the long lost grand nephew of Max Bialystock, the main protagonist in "The Producers.''
Turns out that Samson Bialostok carries the same memorable pronunciation but with a slightly different spelling. The junior from North Woodmere, N.Y. (OK, he has to be a relative of Max) was the main offensive weapon for Macalester, rushing for 87 yards and passing for 83 yards.
That might not sound like much -- 83 yards passing -- but Bialostok's 13 for 30 and a touchdown was Peyton Manning-like precision in comparison to Hamline's aerial assault. And Bialostok's 13-yard touchdown pass created the only points in the game.
Macalester 7, Hamline 0, and the Scots keep possession of the Paint Bucket for a third year.
This had not been a regular occurrence. Macalester had not won three in a row vs. Hamline since it had eight straight victories from 1955 through 1962.
It was good news to discover later on Saturday that Macalester and Hamline will continue to meet on what sporstwriters loved to call "the gridiron'' for most of the decades since they started two centuries back.
Schools located a couple miles apart on the same avenue, and that are close enough to an even match, and that have been playing football since 1887, have a sacred obligation to continue playing.