MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Thomas football coach Glenn Caruso was asked point-blank immediately following the Tommies 97-0 demolition of St. Olaf in their regular season finale on Saturday in Northfield: Is that too much?
Caruso, whose team is ranked fourth in several NCAA Division III polls, Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions, and headed to the national playoffs, defended what just happened on a sunny afternoon during the Oles’ senior day at Manitou Field.
“What’s too much?” Caruso responded to WCCO’s Dave Lee on the postgame show following the game broadcast.
“We do everything we can to make sure that we put our guys in the best possible situation, as they do,” said the 10th-year head coach. “I can’t control whether or not they want to extend the game, which obviously they were very comfortable doing.”
But was it too much?
“The answer is no,” Caruso said.
The halftime score was 64-0. The Tommies returned a punt and an interception for scores before the starters were pulled in the second half. They didn’t punt once, out-gained the Oles 667 yards to 71, went five-for-five on fourth down tries, made a pair of two-point conversions, and finished the day attempting one pass in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we were tremendously gracious at the end of the game, with letting the clock wind down and using fullback runs,” said Caruso, who inserted senior offensive lineman Jackson Lind into the backfield in the game’s final drive. He plunged five yards into the end zone with seven seconds left on the clock.
“We didn’t have anybody else to put in that was a running back,” said Caruso. “He ended up scoring, pretty cool.”
With the win, the Tommies tied the MIAC record of 28 straight league victories. ST. John’s set the mark in 2004.
The 97-0 whitewash isn’t the largest margin of victory of the season in Division III football. In the season’s opening week, St. John’s blitzed St. Scholastica 98-0 in Collegeville.
St. Olaf, coached by former Tommie offensive coordinator James Killian, finished the season 4-6, with a 3-5 mark in the MIAC. Killian worked under Caruso at St. Thomas the previous three seasons.
“I am responsible for one football team, the University of St. Thomas,” said Caruso. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure (our team) is in the best possible situation. I can’t control whether the other team wants to do something, or doesn’t want to do anything. But, at the end of the day, it’s really not serving the game well if you don’t play your hardest.”
The Tommies led the MIAC this season in total offense and scoring, while allowing the fewest yards and points. They’ve won games this season by scores of 84-0, 63-0, 58-7, 58-13 and 57-25. They’ve also lost once, a 25-22 nonconference setback at Wisconsin-Stout, which had a 5-4 record this season.
Despite the domination in the season finale, Caruso feels his team can get better.
“The score is relatively minimal compared to what we need to grow at,” he said. “This time of year it’s important that we continue to grow, and we’re doing that right now, playing at a ridiculously high level.”