No. 4-ranked St. Thomas relied on another strong second-half performance Saturday to achieve the first 10-0 season in the school's football history with a 38-7 home win over Carleton College.
The victory also wrapped up the Tommies' first undisputed MIAC championship since 1983 and virtually assured them of home field for the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs, which will begin Nov. 20. The NCAA will announce the 32-field field on Sunday, Nov. 14.
It was the 13th consecutive home victory for St. Thomas, which is now the first Division III team to start this season 10-0.
St. Thomas, which had no turnovers on the day, led only 10-7 at halftime. The Toms scored on a quick touchdown drive to open the game, then broke a 7-7 tie with Tim Albright's 20-yard field goal as the first-half time expired.
UST dominated both lines of scrimmage in the second half. Carleton was held to three first downs, 47 net yards and four punts in five second-half possessions. That included 15 carries for three net rushing yards in the final two quarters.
The Tommies stopped Carleton on four consecutive three-and-out series, holding the Knights to just four yards in 12 plays and subsequently taking advantage of short punts and midfield positions. They strung together four straight touchdown drives -– 39, 50, 48 and 58 yards -– to put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter.
UST's last four wins were all in doubt at halftime as it held leads that ranged from just three to eight points. But Coach Glenn Caruso's Tommies outscored Augsburg, Bethel, Gustavus and Carleton by a combined 105-13 in the second half.
St. Thomas junior Greg Morse started at quarterback and played most of the game, hitting 12 of 16 passes for 179 yards, including five passes to freshman Ben Noehring, who finished with six catches for 101 yards. Running backs Ben Wartman and Colin Tobin again had strong days on the ground, picking up 92 and 81 yards, respectively.
Wartman had two short TD runs and broke 20-year-old school career records for scoring (282 points) and touchdowns (47).
Defensively, UST linebacker Tony Danna sacked Carleton quarterback Vaughn Schmid twice, forcing a fumble on the first sack and thus thwarting the Knights in the red zone. They were inside the St. Thomas 10 at the time and threatening to go break the 7-7 tie.
Schmid completed 17-of-23 passes for 136 yards and scored the Knights' lone TD on a 4th-and-4 rush late in the first quarter.
The Tommies are idle next Saturday as the rest of the MIAC finishes regular-season play.
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