No. 10 St. John's rolls past St. Olaf on Homecoming

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COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — St. John's rebounded from an early 13-0 deficit to defeat St. Olaf 59-20 in front of a large Homecoming crowd at rain-soaked Clemens Stadium. The Johnnies were ranked 10th in this week's AFCA coaches' poll.

St. Olaf opened the scoring two minutes into the game as freshman Jason Moore scampered in from 3 yards out. The two-point conversion attempt failed for the Oles. The touchdown was set up by a 32-yard interception return by senior Chad Thomas down to the Johnnie 4-yard line. Less than four minutes later, junior Kipp Pennau intercepted a senior Ross Denne tipped pass and returned it 84 yards for a touchdown and the Oles led 13-0. The early lead was reminiscent of last season's game in Collegeville when the Oles jumped out 13-0 and ended up winning 31-28. 

The Johnnies finally got on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter as senior Kent Crowley scored on an 8-yard run. Late in the first quarter, sophomore Lee Clintsman scored on a 5-yard run and the score was tied 13-13 after the first 15 minutes.

St. Olaf went back on top early in the second quarter as senior Cordell Hunkins scored on a one-yard run to cap a 12 play, 55-yard drive. The Johnnies then scored 46 unanswered points as junior Blake Elliott and Clintman caught touchdown passes of 19 and 40 yards, respectively, from Denne. Crowley scored his second touchdown of the day late in the first half on a 4-yard run and the Johnnies led 34-20 at halftime.

In the third quarter, SJU continued its large offensive numbers as Elliott caught a 4-yard pass from Denne and then Denne scored himself on a 1-yard run to give SJU a 47-20 lead early in the second half. Clintsman scored his third touchdown of the day at 6:24 of the third quarter on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Denne.

The only scoring of the fourth quarter came at 8:37 when freshman Jake Theis scored on a 3-yard run.

The Johnnies racked up impressive offensive numbers with 638 yards total offense and a school record 36 first downs. The Johnnies passed for 426 yards and ran for 212 yards. SJU held the Ole offense to only 190 yards total offense, including 59 yards rushing. The Oles only had 17 yards after the first quarter, even though the game was tied at 13-13.

Individually for SJU, Ross Denne made his first start of the season a success as he threw for 388 yards, four touchdowns on 27 completions. Denne did throw three interceptions. The receiver connection of Elliott and Clintsman caught 20 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns. Elliott had 13 receptions for 180 yards, while Clintsman had seven catches for 113 yards. Elliott also had a 36-yard punt return that give him 1,037 yards in his career at SJU, which is a new school record. Crowley was the leading rusher for the Johnnies, with 11 carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns. 

For a stretch of two-plus quarters, the Johnnies scored eight touchdowns in 10 possessions. The Johnnie defensive unit was led by junior Cam McCambridge with 15 total tackles. 

For the Oles, junior Brian Senske was 13-for-28 passing for 122 yards. Hunkins was the leading rusher with 34 yards, while sophomore Frank Bass and junior Cory Peterson each caught four passes for St. Olaf. On defense, Chad Thomas had 14 total tackles, while senior Matt Lafferty had 11 total tackles.

SJU improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the MIAC. The Johnnies have now won nine consecutive games at Clemens Stadium. St. Olaf lost its first game of the season and fell to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the MIAC.

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