'D' rules day for Toms in 22-point defeat of Johnnies
The Tommie defense held St. John's to 24 net rushing yards and made four second-half interceptions to help secure Saturday's 43-21 MIAC football road win over their archrival.
A Colllegeville crowd of more than 14,000 watched No. 6-ranked St. Thomas (3-0 overall, 1-0) extend its regular-season victory streak to 27 and its MIAC win streak to 20.
The Johnnies (2-1, 0-1) had a six-game win streak halted and had 60-year head coach John Gagliardi's 600th game at SJU end on a sour note.
The Tommies outscored St. John's 36-7 in the game's final 44:00 to build their first three-game win streak in the series since 1954-57 when they won four in a row. The 43 points are the third most for UST in 81 games of the Tommie-Johnnie series. St. Thomas scored 63 last season at home and 56 on the road in a 1986 victory.
UST scored on a 33-yard TD reception by Dan Noehring on its first play from scrimmage and later returned two interceptions inside the SJU four-yard line to set up touchdowns. One of the those was an 81-yarder returned to the Johnnies' one-yard line by senior Tyler Erstad in the fourth quarter to swing the momentum back to the Tommies.
The Tommies overcame three interceptions and 12 penalties. They gained 405 yards on offense. Ryan Toney rushed for 50 yards had three short touchdown runs. Logan Marks had a career-high six catches.
QB Matt O'Connell rushed for 56 yards and passed for 218 yards. He led UST to scoring drives of 80 and 72 yards in the last 10:00 of the first half. The latter drive was capped by a seven-yard TD pass to Marks with just two seconds left in the first half that put UST ahead 22-14 at halftime.
SJU starting QB Connor Bruns came into the game with an 71-percent completion rate on the season. He threw for 316 yards but completed only 17-of-36. The St. John's offense had gone 10 quarters this season under Bruns without a turnover before he was picked four times in the game's final 24:00.
St. Thomas' defense has 26 interceptions by 13 different players over the last two seasons.
The Tommies have a bye week next and play Sept. 29 at Carleton.
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