Nov. 27, 2010

Courtesy of St. Thomas

No. 4-ranked St. Thomas forced and recovered a Linfield fumble inside the 5-yard-line to end the game and claim a 24-17 overtime victory over No. 8-ranked Linfield (Ore.) in Saturday's NCAA second-round Division III playoff game at UST's O'Shaughnessy Stadium.

The Tommies (12-0), who never trailed, won a school-record 12th game and avenged a 31-20 loss to the Wildcats last December in McMinnville, Ore.

They will play conference rival Bethel nest Saturday at noon at O'Shaughnessy Stadium in the quarterfinal round.

Bethel (11-1) won its second consecutive road game with a 15-10 decision over host Wheaton. It's the first time two MIAC teams have reached the national quarterfinals in the same season.

Down to its last play, Linfield scored with 17 seconds left in regulation on a 4th-down pass of seven yards from Aaron Boehme to Buddy Saxon. The PAT kick tied the game 17-17.

UST won the coin toss and took defense. After a five-yard penalty, Linfield had three incompletions then missed a 47-yard field goal try. But UST fumbled on the first play of its possession and the Wildcats recovered.

UST had a 316-282 edge in total offense. Linfield missed second-half and OT field goals of 30, 33 and 47 yards.

UST overcame five turnovers on the day and held the Wildcats well under their season averages of 43 points and 471 yards. Linfield rushed 31 times for a net 56 yards.

UST sacked Boehme four times. Tommy Becker had 10 tackles, including a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Tony Danna had an interception and six tackles. Freshman Harry Pitera had two sacks.

In the second overtime, Tommie quarterback Dakota Tracy ad-libbed on a broken play and hit Fritz Waldvogel running across of the back of the end zone for a 10-yard TD. Tim Albright's PAT made it 24-17.

On the third play of Linfield's possession, the Cats had 1st-and-10 from the 12. Taylor Averitt rushed inside the 10 but was hit and stripped by UST's Brady Ervin at the seven. Willy Baregi recovered at the four-yard-line -- his fourth fumble recovery of the season -- to seal the victory.

The Tommies had gone 10 quarters without a turnover before throwing three interceptions in the second quarter. Linfield took advantage of short fields after the first two pickoffs to score a TD and field goal. That forged a 10-10 halftime tie.

UST drove 80 yards in 11 plays early in the fourth quarter to take a 17-10 lead. Tobin's 12-yard dash to the right corner capped the drive.

Waldvogel had 136 all-purpose yards on 11 touches. Tracy rushed for 46 yards and passed for 160. Ben Wartman rushed for 51 yards and Colin Tobin rushed 17 times for 45 yards, including TD runs of 1 and 12 yards.

The Tommies ran their home win streak to 15 games. Overall, they've won 12 in a row and 18 of their last 19 games. They edged Bethel 10-6 at home five weeks ago. Linfield had won 21 of its last 23 games coming in.