Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Depth is important in any team to have success, and it’s never been more evident than the St. Thomas football team’s win over Augsburg on Saturday.
The Tommies used second string and even third-string players in many key positions, but it didn’t matter as their defense clamped down in a 30-14 win over the Auggies. St. Thomas improved to 8-0 on the season, including a 6-0 mark in MIAC play.
“I’m very happy with the win. It’s one of those wins that makes you feel great about your program. We’re very banged up right now, so getting a win like this says a lot about our depth,” St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso said.
St. Thomas can clinch a share of the MIAC title with a win this weekend at Concordia (Moorhead).
Sophomore quarterback Matt O’Connell missed Saturday’s win due to the same injury that caused him to miss the second half against Hamline. Coach Glenn Caruso said the move was strictly precautionary, and O’Connell is expected to practice and play this week.
In his place, Ben Duncan rushed for a pair of first half touchdowns and Jack Kaiser added another as St. Thomas built a 20-0 lead by halftime. Kaiser led the Tommies with 110 yards on the ground. St. Thomas rushed for 309 yards in the win.
Duncan got hurt on the first series of the second half, leaving third-string quarterback Kyler Anderson to finish the game. The Tommies made a concerted effort to run the ball throughout the game with their injuries both behind center and at wide receiver. Dan Noehring, the Tommies’ top threat entering the season, is out the rest of the season after getting hurt in the Bethel win.
It was the St. Thomas defense that led the Tommies to the win. St. Thomas limited Augsburg quarterback Ayrton Scott, one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the MIAC, to 108 yards rushing, 169 yards passing and both of the Auggies’ touchdowns. Scott accounted for 277 of Augsburg’s 293 total yards.
“It wasn’t easy, I thought the defense had a great plan,” Caruso said. “They played with discipline, yet they hustled and it’s not easy to combine that.”
St. Thomas can clinch at least a share of its third straight MIAC title with a win at Concordia (Moorhead) on Saturday. The Tommies can win it outright with a win and Bethel loss at St. Olaf, otherwise the Tommies can win it outright by winning their last two games.
If St. Thomas can win out to earn a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs, I envision a scenario a lot like last year, where they’ll play at home until the national semifinals. The Tommies have been ranked in the top five nationally all season and would have home field throughout the region playoff schedule.
But for right now, all that matters is beating the Cobbers in Moorhead on Saturday. The Tommies Blog will preview that match-up later this week.
In a non-football related note, Caruso said he is paying close attention like a lot of us to the coverage of Superstorm Sandy, which hit the east coast hard on Tuesday. Caruso is a Connecticut native and still has family there. He said as of Tuesday morning his family is safe and although they lost power overnight, it had been restored Tuesday morning.