/seasons/2012/contrib/20120901131qai

New QB leads late comeback win for Toms

More news about: St. Thomas

Tommie sophomore quarterback Matt O'Connell made his first collegiate start a memorable one.

O'Connell contributed to two late fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 52-second span as No. 8-ranked St. Thomas (1-0) rallied for a 27-24 victory over UW-Eau Claire (0-1) in non-conference football play Saturday in Eau Claire, Wis.

St. Thomas ran its regular-season win streak to 25 but needed to overcome a rash of penalties and mistakes to post a rare fourth-quarter comeback victory.

The UST defense allowed 283 total yards but limited the Blugold offense to just 10 yards on 14 plays in the game's final 14:00.

The Tommies trailed 24-13 with 6:00 to play before O'Connell and Dan Ferrazzo connected on a short slant play that Ferrazzo turned into a 49-yard TD reception. O'Connell hit Logan Marks for a two-point conversion to cut the Blugold lead to 24-21.

UST's onside kick attempt was unsuccessful and Eau Claire took over at the Tommie 44-yard line with 3:44 left to go. But Tyler Erstad's interception on the next play gave the Tommies the ball at their own 45-yard line.

Three plays later, O'Connell broke free for a 32-yard go-ahead touchdown run. The PAT kick failed but St. Thomas led 27-24 with 2:54 remaining.

The Tommies appeared to stop UWEC on downs but a fourth-down holding penalty kept the final drive alive. Four plays later Sean Hamlin's interception in the final 60 seconds iced UST's comeback victory.

The Tommies rolled up 420 total yards and 163 return yards but were hurt by 13 penalties, two lost fumbles -- including one in the red zone -- two missed field goals and a 2-of-12 third-down conversion rate.

After scoring on a 22-yard O'Connell to Dan Noehring TD pass in the game's first three minutes, the Tommies were held to just two Griffin Snyder field goals over the next 50 minutes on the game clock. The Toms only punted once all day but still needed the furious rally to pull out a win.

St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso said on his WCCO Radio post-game show that his team overcame periods of sloppy and ineffective play with perseverance.

"There was a lot tears and a lot of pride on that field today but what you saw today was a program win, a University of St. Thomas win. That game was won on mental toughness," Caruso said. "On that last drive, our guys were very calm and cool. If you want to talk about a warrior, I'll talk about Matt O'Connell all day long. I'll go to war with that kid forever."

O'Connell completed 19-of-37 passes for 266 yards and rushed 13 times for 46 yards. Noehring and Ferrazzo each had four catches. Sophomores Ryan Toney and Aaron Terrell-Byrd combined for 201 all-purpose yards. Byrd rushed 13 times for 70 yards and caught three passes for 27 yards. Toney had three returns for 60 yards, one catch for nine yards and six rushes for 35 yards. Freshman Jack Gilliland had three kick returns for 100 yards including a 63 yarder.

For Eau Claire, Joel Sweeney rushed for 104 yards on 27 carries and tight end Austin Goetsch had seven grabs for 86 yards. QB Austin Neu completed 20-of-32 passes for 196 yards but had the two late fourth-quarter interceptions.

Senior Mike Valesano had 11 tackles and senior Ayo Idowu added six tackles and one sack for the UST defense.

St. Thomas opens its home season next Saturday against UW-River Falls while Eau Claire is home to face St. John's.

Box score:

http://www.blugolds.com/stats/fb/2012/12-01.htm

Oct. 12: All times Eastern
Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 55, at Howard Payne 0
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at Guilford 28, Ferrum 27
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Westfield State 41, at Fitchburg State 27
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Wilkes 31, at FDU-Florham 16
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Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 23, Lycoming 16
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Plymouth State 29, at Framingham State 28
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at Hamilton 62, Bowdoin 27
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at Gallaudet 35, Castleton 25
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at Hobart 52, Rochester 7
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Nichols 23, at Becker 15
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Muhlenberg 34, at Thomas More 31
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Final
at Hope 70, Finlandia 6
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Final
King's 51, at Alvernia 7
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at Morrisville State 41, Utica 24
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at Centre 33, Trinity (Texas) 28
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at Cortland 41, Buffalo State 7
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Husson 56, at Alfred State 14
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Wittenberg 41, at Allegheny 14
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Western Connecticut 23, at Massachusetts Maritime 13
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at Amherst 35, Colby 9
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Stevenson 20, at Widener 6
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Wesleyan 44, at Bates 13
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at Case Western Reserve 37, St. Vincent 7
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at Carnegie Mellon 17, Bethany 14
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at Salisbury 17, Montclair State 15
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Maryville (Tenn.) 34, at Methodist 9
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Wabash 7, at Ohio Wesleyan 0
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Misericordia 25, at Lebanon Valley 21
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Denison 20, at DePauw 12
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at Western New England 56, Curry 21
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Randolph-Macon 45, at Shenandoah 14
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Kalamazoo 20, at Albion 19
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Brockport 52, at Alfred 0
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at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Thiel 7
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Wooster 27, at Oberlin 21
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at Washington and Lee 40, Emory and Henry 29
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at Frostburg State 56, William Paterson 0
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at Hiram 28, Kenyon 24
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Wesley 54, at Kean 6
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Trine 50, at Olivet 49
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Southern Virginia 23, at Apprentice 21
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at St. John Fisher 42, Hartwick 14
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Final - OT
MacMurray 27, at Crown 21
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at Martin Luther 28, Westminster (Mo.) 12
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at Macalester 47, Lawrence 21
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Ithaca 24, at Union 0
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at Marietta 63, Wilmington 21
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at Coast Guard 15, Maine Maritime 0
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Mount Union 77, at Capital 3
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Final
at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Tufts 24
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Franklin 42, at Mount St. Joseph 34
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Final
Manchester 21, at Bluffton 17
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Final
John Carroll 49, at Ohio Northern 17
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at Hanover 48, Defiance 7
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at Baldwin Wallace 44, Muskingum 7
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at Grove City 28, Waynesburg 3
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Merchant Marine 17, at Springfield 14
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Middlebury 21, at Williams 10
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Final
at Huntingdon 52, Brevard 17
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Hampden-Sydney 42, at Bridgewater 21
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at SUNY-Maritime 35, Dean 7
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Endicott 66, at University of New England 38
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Final
at Washington and Jefferson 50, Geneva 43
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Final
Berry 35, at Hendrix 14
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at Texas Lutheran 28, East Texas Baptist 21
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Augustana 41, at North Park 7
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Final
Louisiana College 35, at McMurry 23
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at Washington U. 17, Wheaton (Ill.) 10
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Final
Wartburg 31, at Coe 19
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Final
Eureka 44, at Concordia-Chicago 14
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Final
Carleton 36, at Augsburg 34
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Final
Rockford 37, at Lakeland 20
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Gustavus Adolphus 42, at Hamline 14
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Final
at St. John's 40, St. Thomas 20
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Final
Concordia (Wis.) 23, at Aurora 20
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at Benedictine 40, Wisconsin Lutheran 31
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at Loras 44, Nebraska Wesleyan 20
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Final
St. Norbert 21, at Chicago 20
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Final
Bethel 35, at St. Olaf 7
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Final
at Luther 41, Buena Vista 26
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Final
Millikin 32, at Carthage 29
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Final
Knox 28, at Grinnell 7
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at Central 17, Simpson 16
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Final
at Ripon 49, Beloit 14
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Final
at UW-River Falls 21, UW-Stout 19
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Monmouth 45, at Illinois College 13
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at Illinois Wesleyan 44, Elmhurst 28
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Final
UW-Whitewater 45, at UW-Eau Claire 0
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Sul Ross State 27
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Austin 34, at Millsaps 23
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at Lake Forest 42, Cornell 0
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at UW-Oshkosh 31, UW-Platteville 10
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Final
at Bridgewater State 44, Mass-Dartmouth 28
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at Whitworth 55, Pacific Lutheran 13
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Final
Pacific 23, at Puget Sound 22
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George Fox 28, at Willamette 6
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at Linfield 43, Lewis and Clark 26
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at Southwestern 21, Belhaven 10
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Rowan 17, at TCNJ 14
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Adrian 28, at Alma 23
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Averett 24, at N.C. Wesleyan 14
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Heidelberg 21, at Otterbein 7
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Anderson 63, at Earlham 0
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at North Central (Ill.) 59, Carroll 0
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Final
at UW-La Crosse 63, UW-Stevens Point 27
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Birmingham-Southern 13, at Sewanee 10
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at St. Scholastica 47, Greenville 13
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 20, Minnesota-Morris 17
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Final
La Verne 42, at Whittier 23
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at Chapman 62, Occidental 0
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Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20, at Redlands 10
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at Cal Lutheran 28, Pomona-Pitzer 24
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
LaGrange 43, at Greensboro 16
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Oct. 12: All times Eastern
Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 55, at Howard Payne 0
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Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 23, Lycoming 16
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Final
Muhlenberg 34, at Thomas More 31
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Final
Brockport 52, at Alfred 0
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Final
at Frostburg State 56, William Paterson 0
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Final
Wesley 54, at Kean 6
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Final
Wittenberg 41, at Allegheny 14
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Final
Trine 50, at Olivet 49
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Final
at Case Western Reserve 37, St. Vincent 7
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Final
Mount Union 77, at Capital 3
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Final
John Carroll 49, at Ohio Northern 17
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Final
Berry 35, at Hendrix 14
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Final
at Washington and Jefferson 50, Geneva 43
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Final
at St. John's 40, St. Thomas 20
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Final
at Washington U. 17, Wheaton (Ill.) 10
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 44, Elmhurst 28
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Final
UW-Whitewater 45, at UW-Eau Claire 0
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Sul Ross State 27
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Final
at UW-Oshkosh 31, UW-Platteville 10
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Final
at Whitworth 55, Pacific Lutheran 13
Photos Recap Box Score Video
Final
at Linfield 43, Lewis and Clark 26
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 59, Carroll 0
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