December 13, 2003

Johnnies clinch return to Stagg Bowl

More news about: St. John-s

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — Josh Nelson caught three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth, leading St. John's to a 38-10 win over RPI in the Division III semifinals Saturday.

The Johnnies gave coach John Gagliardi his 413th career win and face Mount Union in the championship Dec. 20 in Salem, Va. Mount Union, the three-time defending Division III champion, routed Bridgewater 66-0 in its semifinal game.

Nelson, who came into the game with 291 receiving yards, third-best on the Johnnies, caught 8 passes for a career-best 192 yards.

His first score was an 80-yarder where he caught the ball on the 50 and out-ran the Engineers' secondary. His second was a 6-yard screen pass late in the third quarter that put St. John's (13-0) ahead for good. In the fourth quarter, Nelson caught a short pass in a crowd at the 1 yard line and muscled into the end zone.

He added a 1-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring on St. John's 22nd consecutive win at Clemens Stadium.

It will be St. John's first trip to the championship game since 2000, when they lost 10-7 to Mount Union. The last national title for the Johnnies, who are making their 15th postseason appearance, was in 1976 when they beat Towson State 31-28.

RPI (11-2) had little success against St. John's defense, which chased quarterback Dan Cole out of the pocket and all over the field. Cole, averaging 286 passing yards per game, was 26-for-46 for 237 yards. He was intercepted twice, with Cole Delbele returning one 36 yards for a touchdown.

The Engineers had won three consecutive playoff games, the first postseason football victories in school history.

Trailing 7-0, Cole managed to avoid St. John's furious rush, leading RPI on an 11-play, 66-yard drive that was capped by a 21-yard pass to Dan Stephens. Following a St. John's turnover, one of three in the game, the Engineers went ahead on a 28-yard field goal by Matt Verenini.

St. John's also had trouble moving the ball in the first half, getting into RPI territory only twice following Keating's first touchdown pass to Nelson. One of those possessions led to Brandon Keller's 32-yard field goal, which tied the game at 10.

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at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
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Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
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at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
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Langston at McMurry
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at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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