/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

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
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at Dean 25, Becker 10
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Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
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MIT 38, at Catholic 21
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Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
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at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
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at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
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at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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at Albright 9, Widener 7
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Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
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at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
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Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
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Williams 24, at Colby 7
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Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
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Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
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at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
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Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
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at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
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Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Union 17, at Curry 14
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at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
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Lycoming 44, at King's 41
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at Western New England 21, Husson 14
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
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at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
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at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
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Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
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at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
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at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
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Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
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at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
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at Eureka 44, Crown 20
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Final
at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
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Final
at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
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at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
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Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
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at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
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Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
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Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
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Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
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at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
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Final
Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Final
at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
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at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
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Final
at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
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Final
at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
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Final - OT
at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
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Final
at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
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at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
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Final
at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
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Final
Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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Final
at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Final
Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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Final
St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
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Final
at Knox 13, Ripon 6
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Final
at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Final
Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
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Final
Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
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Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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Final
at Springfield 42, WPI 10
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Final
at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
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Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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Final
at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
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Final
at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
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Final
at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
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Final
at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
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Final
at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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Final
at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
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Final - OT
at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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Final
at Averett 35, Methodist 6
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Final
at Berry 28, Centre 14
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Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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Final
at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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Final
at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Final
Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
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Final
Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
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at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
Final - OT
at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
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Final
Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
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Final
Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Sep. 28: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Shenandoah at Randolph-Macon
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Sep. 29: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Delaware Valley at FDU-Florham
Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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Final
Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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Final
at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Final
Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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Final
Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Final
at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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Final
at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Final
Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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Final
at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Final
North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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Final
at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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Sep. 29: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Delaware Valley at FDU-Florham