December 15, 2012

St. Thomas unfazed in first trip to Salem

More news about: St. Thomas
Mount Union pulled out all the stops, including Dan Ferrazzo taking a fake field goal snap to the end zone for a touchdown.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com 

By Adam Turer
D3sports.com

SALEM, Va. -- Unfazed. Starting seven freshmen and sophomores on offense; losing their leading rusher in the game’s opening minutes; making the program’s first Stagg Bowl appearance. Nothing fazed St. Thomas on this clear Friday night in Salem.

The Tommies lost Stagg Bowl XL to Mount Union, 28-10. Until late in the final quarter, the outcome was in doubt. St. Thomas trailed just 14-7 at halftime.

Facing a 14-0 first-quarter deficit, the Tommies could have folded. They could have been satisfied with reaching the pinnacle of D-III football. St. Thomas could have been content with the trip to Salem and the excitement that comes with Stagg Bowl week. Instead, the Tommies put up a fight against a Purple Raiders team playing in its eighth straight Stagg Bowl. There was no solace in defeat.

“We all wanted this very, very badly,” said Tommies coach Glenn Caruso. “We worked tirelessly and selflessly to do so. We failed tonight.”

Mount Union took the early lead, driving down the field on the game’s first possession. Jake Simon capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The Tommies defense stiffened after that, keeping the Purple Raiders offense out of the end zone for the remainder of the half. Mount Union had 136 yards in the first half, but 82 of those came on the opening drive.

“At times, I feel that our defensive front is underestimated,” said Caruso. “They do a great job.”

It was no surprise that special teams played a big factor in this one. Mount Union made the first impact in that phase of the game, as Charles Dieuseul blocked a Garrett Maloney punt, scooped up the ball, and ran it in for the Purple Raiders’ second score of the game. The Tommies trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, but St. Thomas had a big special teams play up its sleeve.

On fourth down at the Mount Union 10-yard line early in the second quarter, wide receiver and holder Dan Ferrazzo took the field goal snap and ran it in for a touchdown. The momentum shifted in the Tommies’ favor and a stout defensive effort kept the momentum on the newcomers’ sideline.

Matt O'Connell took some hits but was unfazed against Mount Union.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

“Our confidence was high the whole game,” said sophomore quarterback Matt O’Connell.

Freshman running back Brenton Braddock started the game for St. Thomas, but only carried the ball twice before leaving with an injury that kept him out of practice all week. Braddock led the team with 207 carries, 1,125 yards, and 16 touchdowns entering the game.

The offensive burden fell on the shoulders of O’Connell. The Tommies’ defense and special teams helped relieve that burden. Ryan Deitz came up with another huge special teams play when he stripped Chris Denton on a punt return. That led to a Paul Graupner 38-yard field goal which brought St. Thomas within four with 6:27 to play in the third quarter. The Tommies were beating Mount Union at their own game.

“They are a quick defense, a pressure defense, they tackle well, and they run to the football,” said Mount Union coach Larry Kehres. “They are very well prepared and coached and they have solid special teams with the element of surprise on special teams, which is something we like to do. I certainly do [see similarities between our teams].”

After that score, St. Thomas failed to capitalize on opportunities. Mount Union proved why it was the nation’s leading defense all season, holding St. Thomas to just 35 yards of offense in the second half.

“We had opportunities to put a few more points on the board,” said Caruso. “If we would have done a better job on the offensive side of the ball, we could have been in better shape.”

The Purple Raiders pulled away with a fourth-down score on a great catch by Denton with just over a minute to play in the third quarter. Simon iced the game with his second touchdown run of the game in the fourth quarter.

“Obviously, we’re crushed right now,” said Ferrazzo. “We’re going to own up to it and learn from it.”

For a team with so many underclassmen, the Tommies will have opportunities to return. For the departing seniors, they left a legacy that no St. Thomas players before them can claim. The national semifinal trip of 2011 and the Stagg Bowl appearance in 2012 are impressive, but the loss tonight was in no way a moral victory for the Tommies.

“We’ve gotten markedly better every year,” said Caruso. “They take ownership, as do I. I failed tonight and I have no problem saying that. I will learn from it and get better and I will not make the same mistake twice.”

While Mount Union and UW-Whitewater have made it look easy in years past, returning to the Stagg Bowl in consecutive years is no easy accomplishment. Caruso called three timeouts in the final minute of the game, bringing his entire team together on the sideline during each pause in the action. He wants them to remember the moment and the feeling and to make this experience last as long as possible.

“We respect this game too much to not play every second to our hardest,” said Caruso. “I told them I loved them and that I would do anything I can to keep them playing football for one more second.”

Caruso made the trip to Salem last year, as a spectator. The fire that burned in him after watching from the stands helped drive him and his team to reach the playing field this year. Now, the fire burns deeper than ever before.

“The only way we’re going to get where we want to be, with those fireworks over our head, is if we own up to our failures and not make the same mistakes twice,” said Caruso. “The difference between being on our side and their side is sometimes so slim.”

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 18: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Christopher Newport at N.C. Wesleyan
Live Stats Video
Sep. 19: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Framingham State at Fitchburg State
Live Stats Video
Sep. 20: All times Eastern
TBA
TBA at Emory and Henry
12:00 PM
RPI at Castleton State
Live Stats Video Tickets
12:00 PM
Maine Maritime at Massachusetts Maritime
Preview Live Stats Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Gallaudet at Rochester
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Alfred State at Husson
Preview Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Randolph-Macon
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Moravian at Johns Hopkins
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Frostburg State at Utica
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Alfred at Buffalo State
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Newport News Apprentice at Catholic
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Becker at Nichols
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Wesleyan at Middlebury
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Worcester State
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Hamilton at Tufts
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Bates at Amherst
Preview Live Stats
1:00 PM
Colby at Trinity (Conn.)
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Salve Regina at William Paterson
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Stevenson
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Allegheny at Hiram
Live Stats Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Merchant Marine
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at St. Vincent
Preview Video
1:00 PM
Thomas More at Thiel
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Ursinus at Franklin and Marshall
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Endicott at Kean
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Coast Guard at Hampden-Sydney
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Averett
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Albright at Widener
Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Hobart at Curry
Live Stats Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
LaGrange at Greensboro
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Dickinson
Video Audio
1:00 PM
Rowan at Wesley
Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
FDU-Florham at Misericordia
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Juniata at Gettysburg
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Lincoln (Pa.) at Montclair State
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Wabash at Denison
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Bethany at Westminster (Pa.)
1:00 PM
Mount Ida at Springfield
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Hartwick at Ithaca
Live Stats
1:00 PM
WPI at Norwich
Live Stats Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Iowa Wesleyan at Minnesota-Morris
1:00 PM
Huntingdon at Methodist
Video Video
1:30 PM
Ohio Northern at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Capital
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Franklin at Anderson
Preview Live Stats Audio
1:30 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Washington and Jefferson
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:30 PM
Heidelberg at John Carroll
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
King's at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Geneva at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Muskingum
Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
1:30 PM
Mount St. Joseph at Defiance
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Earlham at Manchester
Live Stats Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Bowdoin at Williams
Video
2:00 PM
Muhlenberg at McDaniel
Preview Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-Whitewater at TCNJ
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Marietta at Otterbein
Audio
2:00 PM
Hope at Lakeland
Audio
2:00 PM
Olivet at Aurora
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Trine at Rockford
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Albion at Concordia (Wis.)
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
North Park at Washington U.
Preview Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Kalamazoo at Wisconsin Lutheran
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
UW-Eau Claire at Wheaton (Ill.)
Live Stats Video Audio Tickets
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at St. John's
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Bethel
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Augsburg at Carleton
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Hamline at Gustavus Adolphus
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Stetson at Birmingham-Southern
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at Sul Ross State
Audio
2:00 PM
Occidental at Austin
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Central
2:00 PM
Grinnell at Luther
Video
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at Coe
Audio
2:00 PM
Eureka at Greenville
2:00 PM
Westminster (Mo.) at MacMurray
2:00 PM
Loras at Augustana
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Texas Lutheran at Louisiana College
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Illinois Wesleyan at Simpson
Live Stats Video
2:30 PM
Rose-Hulman at Hanover
Live Stats Video
3:00 PM
Plymouth State at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
3:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Wayland Baptist
Live Stats Video Audio
3:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Whittier
Live Stats Video
3:00 PM
Willamette at Cal Lutheran
Live Stats
3:30 PM
Alma at Concordia-Chicago
Live Stats Video
3:30 PM
Carroll at Lake Forest
Live Stats Video
3:30 PM
Whitworth at La Verne
Live Stats Video Audio
4:00 PM
Westfield State at Mass-Dartmouth
Live Stats Video
Final
at $event.winner.name $event.winner.result, $event.loser.name $event.loser.result
Box Score
6:00 PM
DePauw at Wittenberg
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
6:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Brockport State
Audio Tickets
6:00 PM
UW-River Falls at South Dakota Mines
7:00 PM
Guilford at Southern Virginia
@ Salem Stadium
Live Stats Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Wooster at Oberlin
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Ferrum at Shenandoah
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Centre at Washington and Lee
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Kenyon at Ohio Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Wilkes at Delaware Valley
Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Pacific at Dubuque
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
UW-Platteville at North Central (Ill.)
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Chicago at Elmhurst
Preview Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at UW-La Crosse
7:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at South Dakota State
Live Stats Video Audio
7:30 PM
Adrian at Benedictine
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
UW-Stout at Wartburg
Audio
8:00 PM
Martin Luther at Northwestern (Minn.)
8:00 PM
Southwestern at East Texas Baptist
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
10:00 PM
Rhodes at Pomona-Pitzer
Preview Live Stats Video
10:00 PM
Linfield at Redlands
Live Stats Video Audio
Sep. 20: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Brockport State
Audio Tickets
6:00 PM
DePauw at Wittenberg
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
UW-Stout at Wartburg
Audio
7:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at South Dakota State
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
UW-Platteville at North Central (Ill.)
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at UW-La Crosse
10:00 PM
Linfield at Redlands
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
UW-Whitewater at TCNJ
Live Stats Audio
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Muskingum
Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
1:30 PM
Heidelberg at John Carroll
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
King's at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Rowan at Wesley
Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Coast Guard at Hampden-Sydney
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Wabash at Denison
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Thomas More at Thiel
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Hartwick at Ithaca
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Hobart at Curry
Live Stats Live Stats Audio
12:00 PM
Moravian at Johns Hopkins
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Bethel
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-Eau Claire at Wheaton (Ill.)
Live Stats Video Audio Tickets
2:00 PM
Illinois Wesleyan at Simpson
Live Stats Video

What We're Reading