Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The St. Thomas football team left the field a happy bunch Saturday after a dominating 48-17 victory over St. Norbert in the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
You couldn’t blame them for their jubilation after their most dominating performance in their most important game of the season yet. After a slow start, the Tommies scored four times in the second quarter to take a commanding 27-0 lead into the halftime locker room. Brenton Braddock scored three of those four touchdowns as part of a 173 yard rushing day. His fourth touchdown was on an 82-yard run to give the Tommies a 41-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Tommies put together 536 yards of offense on 85 total plays, with 295 yards total coming in the run game. It’s become very clear that Matt O’Connell likes going to his tight ends in the passing game as both of his touchdown passes went to players in that position. Logan Marks caught a 10-yard pass for a score in the second quarter that gave the Tommies a 13-0 lead. Matt Allen had a short touchdown catch in the third quarter that gave St. Thomas a 34-0 lead.
The St. Thomas defense shut out St. Norbert for the better part of three quarters. By the time St. Norbert got on the scoreboard, the game was decided. The Green Knights managed just 26 yards rushing on nine carries and passed for 219 yards on the day. The Tommies also sacked quarterback James Tringali four times on the day.
Dan Bedor led a balanced defensive attack for St. Thomas with four solo tackles. Ayo Idowu had four tackles, two for a loss and three pass break-ups. Bedor, Tyler Erstad and Mike Valesano each had one sack.
It’s not very often that you can play back-ups in playoff games, but that’s exactly what the Tommies did Saturday. Kyler Anderson capped the St. Thomas scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run where the entire St. Norbert defense bit on a fake to the left side of the field, leaving the rest of the field wide open. It gave the Tommies their final 48-17 margin of victory.
St. Thomas is now 5-0 in NCAA first-round playoff games, including 4-0 under Glenn Caruso. The Tommies have also won 14 straight at home and are 31-2 with Caruso in four-plus seasons.
St. Thomas, ranked No. 3 in the nation, moves on to the second round where it will host Elmhurst College of Illinois, who beat Coe College 27-24. That game will be at noon Saturday at O’Shaughnessy Stadium. The Bluejays are 10-1 on the season.
Bethel, the other MIAC team in the playoffs, advanced with a 24-23 road win over unbeaten Concordia College of Chicago. The Royals will travel this weekend to face UW-Oshkosh.