Eric Peterson, Published November 03 2012
No. 3 St. Thomas powers past No. 16 Concordia to earn MIAC title
Sophomore quarterback Matt O’Connell threw two touchdowns to Logan Marks in the first half Saturday at Jake Christiansen Stadium.
Those scores – coupled with a stingy defense – vaulted the No. 3-ranked Tommies to a 21-7 victory against No. 16-ranked Concordia in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football.
St. Thomas (9-0, 7-0 MIAC) clinched its third consecutive conference title with the victory. The Tommies have won 26 consecutive league games.
“They’re the champions until somebody proves differently,” Cobbers head coach Terry Horan said. “They were better than us today.”
Concordia (7-2, 5-2) had its three-game winning streak snapped and MIAC title hopes ended. The Cobbers play at Gustavus next Saturday. Concordia needs a victory to have a chance to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
“We’re not out of this thing,” Horan said. “There are a lot of two-loss teams right now that are making some big moves to have some consideration. We’ve got to be one of those.”
The Cobbers got some help Saturday for their at-large hopes. St. Olaf earned a 24-17 victory against Bethel. Bethel and St. Olaf are now both 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the MIAC like Concordia.
“It’s kind of out of our hands,” Cobbers senior fullback Brett Baune said of getting an at-large big.
“We just have to come out and play well against Gustavus. That is all we can do right now.”
St. Thomas stymied the Cobbers offense, limiting Concordia to 154 rushing yards on 40 attempts. The Cobbers came into the game, leading the MIAC with 262.5 yards per game on the ground.
St. Thomas built a 21-0 lead through three quarters. The Cobbers scored their lone points with 5 minutes, 6 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Baune powered into the end zone from two yards out.
The Cobbers finished with seven first downs and 272 yards.
“They are an intense group out there. They fly around to the ball,” Baune said of the Tommies defense. “It’s just the talent they have. St. Thomas, they do a good job of recruiting to get those type of players.”
The Cobbers trailed 7-0 late in the second quarter when St. Thomas came up with a key score.
O’Connell hooked up with Marks on a 9-yard touchdown play, which gave St. Thomas a 14-0 lead with 14 seconds remaining in the first half. That capped a 9-play, 62-yard drive that started with 2:42 remaining in the half.
“Scoring before the half was huge,” said St. Thomas head coach Glenn Caruso.
The Tommies grabbed a 21-0 lead after freshman running back Brenton Braddock scored on a 9-yard scamper with 4:20 to play in the third quarter.
Tommies defensive end Ayo Idowu had a strong game, finishing with nine tackles, including two for a loss. The 6-foot-2, 262-pound Idowu said playing smart was important in slowing Concordia.
“It’s an offense where if you’re not disciplined and if you don’t stay home, it’s not going to work. You are not going to stop them,” Idowu said. “No one tried to be a superstar out there and everybody had to do their job and stay in their gap and make a play. I think we did a really good job of that.”
St. Thomas 7 7 7 0–21
Concordia 0 0 0 7– 7
UST–Marks 13 pass from O’Connell (Graupner kick)
UST–Marks 9 pass from O’Connell (Graupner kick)
UST–Braddock 9 run (Graupner kick)
CC–Baune 2 run (Wagner kick)
TEAM STATISTICS UST CC
First downs 21 7
Rushes-yards 47-180 40-154
Passing 217 108
Comp-Att-Int 11-18-1 17-36-0
Punts-Avg. 6-39.3 6-34.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-2
Penalties-Yards 10-68 1-22
Time of possession 31:34 28:26
RUSHING: UST, O’Connell 15-80, Braddock 19-69, Ferrazzo 2-19, Hamlin 1-6, Schneider 2-2, Kaiser 6-2, Truoccolo 2-2. CC, Baune 24-89, Tauer 2-53, Neal 11-16, Wolf 2-(minus-1), Gilson 1-(minus-3).
PASSING: UST, O’Connell 11-18-1 217 yards. CC, Neal 10-22-0 71, Tauer 7-14-0 47.
RECEIVING: UST, Marks 5-78, Misiweicz 2-56, Ferrazzo 2-49, Kaiser 1-30, Fitzsimmons 1-4. CC, Gilson 6-44, Starke 4-33, Wolf 3-18, Whiting 2-14, Baune 2-9.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com