Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The St. Thomas football team gutted out a 17-0 win at Augsburg College Saturday to stay undefeated at 6-0.
In the process, the No. 3-ranked Tommies claimed first place alone in the MIAC with a 4-0 mark. Augsburg is one game back at 3-1, and St. Olaf and Bethel are two games back at 2-1.
The 17 points St. Thomas scored were its lowest of the season so far, and they were the second-fewest Augsburg has allowed in a game this year. St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso said he doesn’t pay a lot of attention to statistics, other than what’s on the scoreboard at the end of the game.
“There was good reason for it. That’s because Augsburg is a good football team,” Caruso said. “It’s not like we came off a big rivalry game and faced some 2-2 team. I kept telling people they’re a good football team and nobody wanted to listen.”
What might have gotten overshadowed in the win is the fact that the Tommies’ defense got its first shutout of the season against a team that scored at least 28 points in each of its four victories. St. Thomas also allowed just 250 yards of total offense in the win.
“I feel great about how we won the game. In order for me to feel most comfortable, I want to win in every fashion,” Caruso said. “Even though a lot of people enjoy big wins, 17-0 wins pay more dividends down the road.”
It’s now a new week and the Tommies are moving on. They face Hamline (0-5), a team that hasn’t scored a point in its last three games. It’s also homecoming week at St. Thomas.
Caruso said his team doesn’t have to deal with a lot of non-football events during the week because the main focus around campus is winning the football game.
“There are really very few distractions here during homecoming week,” Caruso said. “The folks here understand the single best thing our kids can do is win the football game. They do a great job of letting us go out there and do our business, and we go from there.”
With four games left and the record still perfect, every game gets a little bit bigger for the Tommies. The team has to be careful not to overlook Hamline this week as a huge game at Bethel Oct. 22 looms, but Caruso has said several times this season his team does a good job of focusing on what’s in the now versus what lies ahead.
The truth to that statement lies in the fact that if they don’t show up and beat Hamline, none of the rest of their games on the schedule matters in terms of making the playoffs.
“Our focus is pretty simple. We need to be the best that we can be and we don’t need a scoreboard to judge ourselves on that,” Caruso said. “If we play the best that we can, the scoreboard and all that other stuff will take care of itself. We didn’t come this far and work this hard to go 6-1.”
Hamline doesn’t present anything stellar offensively. In fact, the Pipers have only scored 20 points in four losses this season, and they all came against Augsburg. They’ve otherwise been blown out by Pacific Lutheran, Gustavus and Carleton and also were shut out by Macalester.
It’s a game where, in theory, as long as the St. Thomas football players remember where their locker room and the football stadium is, they should be in good shape. The key word there is should.
St. Thomas (6-0) and Hamline (0-4) kick off at 1:10 p.m. Saturday at O’Shaughnessy Stadium in St. Paul. If you can’t make it, tune into the game on WCCO Radio 830 AM as Dave Lee and Eric Nelson will have the call. You can also find a live stream of the game on wcco.com.