MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Glenn Caruso is downright giddy these days as the St. Thomas football coach, and who can blame him?
The No. 3-ranked Tommies handily defeated No. 7-ranked Hobart 47-7 in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday in St. Paul, and an emotional Caruso talked about getting to keep his football family together for at least another week. He also was probably a lot more at ease after UW-Oshkosh beat Linfield in another quarterfinal.
Not because of the opponent St. Thomas now faces this week, but because the travel schedule got a lot less hectic for the Tommies this week. Instead of traveling to Oregon to face Linfield on Saturday, St. Thomas will host No. 5-ranked Oshkosh in St. Paul. The winner faces the Mount Union/Wesley winner for the national title on Dec. 14.
It’s the second straight trip for St. Thomas to the national semifinals.
Brenton Braddock led St. Thomas with four rushing touchdowns in the win over Hobart. Matt O’Connell also passed for 238 yards and a touchdown despite battling the flu.
Caruso appeared on Rosen’s Sports Sunday to talk about the win, the season and hosting Oshkosh in the national semifinals.
“We said at the beginning of the year we’re going to find out whether we have a good football team or a good football program. There’s a big difference between the two,” Caruso said. “A lot of the kids have waited their turn and stepped up.”
St. Thomas has overcome a myriad of injuries this season. Just six of the original 22 starters started the game Saturday, and Caruso’s team has suffered more than 100 injuries this season.
The Tommies scored 32 unanswered points after taking a 15-7 first quarter lead. The St. Thomas defense held Hobart to just 140 yards of total offense, 66 of which came on the Statesmen’s only score of the game.
“Our defense has done a great job of stopping the run all year long,” Caruso said.
St. Thomas is dominant on its home field, and the Tommies are nothing short of excited to host one more playing game on their home turf.
“It’s enormous. We’ve been blessed to have three straight home games in the playoffs with earning the No. 1 seed in the region,” Caruso said. “Now that Oshkosh won and beat Linfield, we get to be back there for a second December game. It doesn’t mean everything, but we’re sure happy to back in front of the purple.”