No. 4-ranked St. Thomas stormed into the Division III football playoff quarterfinal round for the seventh time in the last nine seasons with Saturday's hard-fought 29-13 defeat of unbeaten and No. 18-ranked Berry (Ga.).
The Tommies (11-1) ran a school-record 97 plays for 480 yards, including 198 rushing yards and 282 in the air, and had a season-best 41:07 time of possession. They won their 10th in a row and improved to 13-0 in home first- and second-round NCAA playoff games under Coach Glenn Caruso, all in the last nine seasons.
Next up is a quarterfinal-round test against No. 1-ranked and defending NCAA champion Mary Hardin-Baylor, a 24-0 winner Saturday at home against Linfield (Ore.). The Crusaders have an NCAA all-division-best 27-game victory streak. The game site will be announced Sunday, with Belton, Texas, the likely location.
Berry (11-1) had a 16-game win streak halted, dating back to last season. Vikings' receiver Mason Kinsey had 10 receptions for 157 yards, including touchdown catches of seven and eight yards in the second half, in what was Berry's first postseason road game in the five-year history of its football program.
The Toms broke to a 22-0 lead just 17:58 into the game. Sophomore WR Gabe Green -- who had career highs with eight catches for 128 yards -- had first-quarter TD catches of 36 and 16 yards. Green, a former Southern Mississippi scholarship quarterback was a third-string QB last season at St. Thomas, started 2017 as a back-up receiver. He recorded UST's first 100-yard receiving game of the season. Green has six touchdown grabs in his last six games.
Just three minutes into the second quarter, Jackson Finn's 31-yard catch to the one-yard line set up Josh Parks' one-yard TD run. Dylan Andrew ran in the two-point conversion for a 22-0 St. Thomas lead.
The Tommie defense allowed just 14 net rushing yards on 15 carries -- the eighth time they have allowed 15 or less rushing yards to an opponent this season. UST came into the day leading the nation in tackles for loss with nearly 12 a game, but managed just three on Saturday against a more up-tempo, pass attack. But the Toms broke up six passes and had four QB hurries to go with two sacks.
The Toms received second-half interceptions from Michael Franzese and Mark Dowdle, and had a key red zone stop in the final minute of the first half. Trailing 22-0, Berry threw four incomplete passes from the Tommie five-yard-line after a first-and-goal opportunity with 30 seconds left.
Berry finished with 280 yards on 55 plays. They gained 187 yards and recorded seven of their nine first downs in the second half. The Vikings were 0-for-11 in third- and fourth-down conversions in the first half and 4-of-6 in the second half. Tate Adcock came off the bench in quarter two and finished 12-of-29 for 237 yards with two TD throws and two interceptions. Berry failed ona two-point run with 4:40 left, then just missed gaining an onside-kick with an illegal touch one-half yard from the 45.
UST's Tucker Trettel rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries. QB Jacques Perra had a 61-yard quick punt in quarter one to pin the Vikings at the two-yard line. Perra also completed 21 of 33 for 282 yards and one interception, when he flung the ball to avoid a sack and was picked in the red zone at the Berry 13. In his last seven games Perra has 15 TD passes and just two interceptions.
Evan Breakspear was in on 16 tackles and had a forced fumble and recovered fumble for Berry.
Ten different Toms had a reception. UST converted 13-of-27 on third- and fourth-down conversions. Its 41:07 time of possession was the most in the last six seasons.