DULUTH, Minn. -- Jake Jensen found the end zone four times on Saturday to lead the St. Scholastica football team to victory over the University of Minnesota-Morris Cougars, 44-19 at Minnesota-Duluth's Malosky Stadium.
This was the Saints home opener and second Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) game as they faced off with the Cougars (2-2, 2-1 UMAC) for the fourth time in program history.
The Saints drove the ball down the field on their second possession of the game, only to get stuffed on the one-yard line by the Cougar defense on 4th and goal. The Cougars, however, could not get their backs off the wall, as Zack Dubanoski stopped the running back in the end zone for a safety, giving St. Scholastica an early 2-0 advantage.
After receiving the free kick from Minn.-Morris, the Saints only took two plays and 29 seconds to score on an 11-yard rushing touchdown from Jensen. The point after attempt (PAT) from Mike Theismann was good to put the Saints up 9-0.
On the ensuing Minn.-Morris drive, the Cougars moved the ball down to the 10-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. The Saints used the momentum to their advantage, going on to drive the ball 90 yards on six plays, ending it with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Alex Thiry to Keegan O'Neill on the first play of the second quarter. The PAT was once again good by Theismann to give the Saints a 16-0 edge.
The Cougars would answer the Saints score this time, ending an 11-play, 57-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run from quarterback Derrick Foss. The Cougars were unable to convert the two-point conversion, but cut the St. Scholastica lead down to 16-6.
Jensen continued to run the ball well on St. Scholastica's next drive, running the ball into the end zone from three yards out to cap a 53-yard drive on the Saints next series. Theismann put in the extra point to extend the lead to 23-6.
The back-and-forth play between the Saints and Cougars was just beginning, as Minn.-Morris drove the ball 73 yards on nine plays, ending with a seven-yard pass from Foss to Brendon Foss for a touchdown. The extra point from Ross Kigner was good to make it a 23-13 ballgame.
The Saints would get the ball back for one more drive in the first half, ending yet again with a rushing touchdown from Jensen, his third on the day. The extra point from Theismann was good, giving CSS a 30-13 lead going into the half.
The Saints continued to put on a clinic in the second half, taking the opening drive 56 yards, and ending it with a one-yard touchdown run by Jensen. Theismann was once again on the mark with the PAT, putting the Saints ahead 37-13.
St. Scholastica would continue their scoring ways early in the fourth quarter on another 21-yard touchdown pass from Thiry to O'Neill. With the Theismann PAT, the Saints went up 44-13.
The Cougars would end the scoring on the game with a late touchdown pass from Daniel Garrian to Danny Kernan for 34 yards. Kigner's extra point was blocked by CSS, leaving the final score at 44-19 in favor of St. Scholastica.
Jensen led the rushing attack for the Saints, carrying the ball 19 times for 132 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas Fragale added 47 yards, Matthew Johnson had 34 yards and Nick Thiry capped off the Saints rushing attack with 14 yards, giving them a team total of 236 yards on the ground.
Thiry kept his interception total at zero on the season, going 15-18 passing with 208 yards and two touchdowns.
Both receiving touchdowns were credited to O'Neill as part of his seven-reception, 96-yard game. N. Thiry added three receptions for 48 yards, Jonny Bennett had two catches for 35 yards and Jensen had two receptions as well for 21 yards.
Leading the way defensively for the Saints was once again Sean Graskey, who had nine tackles, bringing his season total to a team-leading 33. JP Leary had eight tackles, and Justin Trautmiller and Christopher Doran both had seven, along with Doran's 1.5 sacks. The Saints defense recovered two fumbles on the day, bringing their turnover margin up to +6 on the season.
Pre-season All-American Cougar running back, Todd Gramenz was held to only 15 yards by the Saints defense. Leandro Dower led the rushing attack with 65 yards on 15 carries, on a day that the Cougars only had 93 yards on the ground, well under their 193.3 average on the year. D. Foss led the Cougars in passing, going 13-23 for 155 yards and one touchdown.
The Saints (3-0, 2-0 UMAC) will remain at home as they host MacMurray College (0-3, 0-2 UMAC) at Public School Stadium in Duluth next Saturday, October 1st at 1 p.m.