After a tightly contested opening half, the Gustavus football team could not keep up with the high-powered St. Thomas in the final :30 minutes as the fourth ranked Tommies scored 29 unanswered points to cruise to a 43-6 victory on Saturday afternoon in St. Peter, Minn. With the loss, the Gusties fall to 3-5 overall and 2-4 in the MIAC. St. Thomas keeps its perfect season intact, moving to 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the MIAC.
St. Thomas got on the board first with a touchdown on a pitch-pass from running back Ben Wartman to Fritz Waldvogel from 14 yards out (7-0) at the 2:54 mark of the first quarter. The Tommies extended the lead to 14-0 following a two-yard bootleg touchdown run by quarterback Dakota Tracy at the 11:14 mark of the second quarter.
Gustavus cut the lead to 14-6 at the 6:51 mark of the second quarter when tight end Cody Williams hit Cody Sukalski on a 50-yard throwback pass for a touchdown. Tom Huepenbecker's extra point attempt was blocked by linebacker Tommy Becker. The Gusties had a golden opportunity with less than one minute to play in the second half when Mike Mohs blocked a Tommie punt at the UST 18-yard-line. The St. Thomas defense tightened down in the red-zone as Logan Becker was picked off by Tommy Becker at the five-yard line, keeping the Gusties off the board and trailing 14-6 at the half.
St. Thomas had 91 yards rushing and 74 yards passing for a total of 165 yards in the opening frame. Gustavus had 59 yard rushing and 69 yards passing for a total of 128 yards.
St. Thomas junior wide receiver Fritz Waldvogel made his presence felt at the start of the second half by returning the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to give St. Thomas a 21-6 lead. Waldvogel recorded 66 yards on seven catches for a total of 169 all-purpose yards on the afternoon.
St. Thomas got behind its offensive line and ran for 137 yards in the second half, bringing its rushing total to 228 yards on the day. The Tommies turned a Gustavus fumble into points at the 1:25 mark of the third quarter when Ben Wartman ran in for a five-yard touchdown, putting the Tommies up 27-6. Colin Tobin capped the game with a pair of touchdown runs coming at the 10:32 (35-6) and 7:13 (41-6) marks of the fourth quarter. Tobin finished the game with 81 yards on 10 carries, while Wartman had 81 yards on 18 carries.
"We are not finishing well. We have had the ball inside the five-yard line twice in the past two weeks and not converted for points," said Haugen. "We did not make a couple plays and when that happened their front went to work on offense."
The Gustavus offense recorded 93 yards rushing and 104 yards passing for a total of 197 yards. Logan Becker was 11-for-23 for 54 yards and an interception. Becker led the Gusties in the ground game with 54 yards on 12 attempts, while Jeffrey Dubose registered 33 yards on 15 attempts. Cody Sukalski led the way in receiving with four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
St. Thomas would finish with a total of 430 yards of total offense. Dakota Tracy was 12-for-18 for 116 yards and two interceptions. He was picked of twice by his former high school teammate Brad Kruckeberg in the game. Kruckeberg finished with seven tackles as the Gustie defense was led by Dustin Kammerer and Mike Mohs. Kammerer made 14 tackles and Mohs made 10. St. Thomas kept Gustavus's defense on the field for a majority of the game, holding on to the ball for 33:07 minutes.
"We have an opportunity to finish this year better than we finished last year, which would be a step in the right direction for our football team. It is going to be difficult with Augsburg on the road and Carleton at home, but I feel our guys are up to the challenge" commented Haugen.
The Gustavus football team will travel to Minneapolis, Minn. to take on Augsburg next Saturday, Nov. 6 at 1:00 p.m.