Nov. 28, 2009

Courtesy of St. Thomas (Minn.)

Junior running back Ben Wartman rushed 34 times for 236 yards and the Tommie defense had three interceptions and eight sacks from eight different players in Saturday's 34-7 victory over visiting Coe in a second-round Division III football playoff game before 3,950 fans at UST's O'Shaughnessy Stadium.  

The 10th-ranked Tommies (11-1) won their first home postseason football game in school history and will become the first St. Thomas football team to play a December game.

They likely will play on the road in the quarterfinals on Dec. 5 at 12-0 Linfield (Ore.), which used 37 unanswered mid-game points en route to a 53-21 win over Mary Hardin-Baylor.  

The Tommies, who improved to 10-1 at home in two seasons under Coach Glenn Caruso, have played 13 consecutive quarters without comitting a turnover.  UST is plus-13 in turnover ratio in its last five games.

UST had nearly a 36-24-minute edge in possession time, scored on all four trips inside the red zone, and outgained Coe (10-2) 499-225 yards.

The Toms limited the Kohawks to a net two yards rushing after several sacks and team losses were counted. The Tommies have outscored their last five opponents 65-7 in the second half. Brady Ervin had two second-half interceptions for the Tommies.

The Kohawks (10-2) played without conference MVP QB Brad Boyle, who was injured in last week's upset win over St. John's. Boyle had only thrown one interception in 366 passes in the first 11 games and the Koawks only had seven turnovers on the season entering today. Freshman QB Jared McNutt was picked off three times, two on tipped passes, and completed 19-of-31 passes for 219 yards.  

St. Thomas scored the game's final 24 points. The UST defense had shut out playoff foes Monmouth and Coe 23-0 in the second half.  

The Tommies, who improved to 10-1 at home in two seasons under Coach Glenn Caruso, have played 13 consecutive quarters without comitting a turnover.  UST is plus-13 in turnover ratio in its last five games.

Coe, playing its fourth road game in 29 days, pulled within 10-7 with 5:07 left in the first half as Michael Rozum's short run capped a nine-play, 74-yard drive.  

UST answered with a quick drive on the clock that covered 63 yards on seven plays to regain a 10-point lead with just 1:46 left in the half. Jake Friederichs' diving catch to the Coe two-yard-line set up a short TD run by QB Greg Morse TD.

After a Willy Baregi interception and 20-yard return to the Coe 46-yard line with 46 seconds left in the first half, St. Thomas score again as Wartman broke the first play for a 46-yard TD run and a 24-7 halftime lead.  
Wartman now has surpassed 100 rushing yards in 18 of his last 20 games, and UST is 17-1 when he eclipses 100 rushing yards. He now has 2,995 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns since moving to running back last season, and his 23 TDs in 12 games this season broke Gary's Trettel's 19-year-old school record of 22 set in 12 games in 1990.

Morse, who didn't play in the last two games with an injury, made his first start since Oct. 24 and had TD passes of 20 yards to senior Tony Margarit and 44 yards to sophomore Fritz Waldvogel. Morse finished 11-of-16 for 196 yards with no interceptions.  

Waldvogel had 160 all-purpose yards on 13 touches, including six receptions for 123 yards.  

Senior PK Brady Beeson, was was just 2-of-6 in field goals in the regular season, is now 5-for-5 in postseason field-goal tries, including a 25- and a 24-yarder here Saturday to go with 4-of-4 PATs.