DULUTH, Minn. – Justin Trautmiller had three interceptions as St. Scholastica was victorious in itshomecoming matchup against the Westminster College Blue Jays 29-12 on Saturday at Malosky Stadium.
The victory over the Blue Jays (5-2, 4-2 UMAC) paired with the Eureka College loss puts the Saints in sole possession of first place in the conference in the first year of eligibility for the UMAC champions to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
St. Scholastica started the scoring off early as Westminster coughed up the ball and Chas Lemon returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. The extra point by Mike Theismann was blocked to leave the score at 6-0 Saints.
The Saints would get the ball with good field position late in the first quarter, but were stuffed at the 18-yard line. Theismann would be called on for the 35-yard field goal and convert to put the Saints ahead 9-0.
CSS drove the ball down the field early in the second quarter only to be halted when Shane Harris intercepted Alex Thiry and returned it 100 yards for a Westminster score. Ross Richardson's point after attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 9-6 CSS. For Thiry it was interception number one on the season.
After two straight sacks, the Saints were set up with 3rd and 21 late in the first half when Thiry found Jonny Bennett in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Theismann's extra point was good and the Saints went into halftime with a 16-6 lead.
Midway through the third quarter, CSS drove the ball 52 yards, capping it off with a one-yard touchdown run by Travis Nehowig. The point after was missed but the Saints still extended their lead to 22-6.
Westminster would make it a game early in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Kurt Gould found Carl Givens for a 15-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good and the Saints lead remained at 22-12.
Nehowig would find the end zone again on a one-yard touchdown run with six minutes left in the game. Theismann's extra point was good to put the nail in the coffin as St. Scholastica went on to victory 29-12.
The story of the day was turnovers as Westminster turned the ball over seven times on five interceptions and two fumbles, giving St. Scholastica a +5 turnover margin on the day. Trautmiller finished with three of those interceptions, with the other two coming at the hands of Mike LaValley and JP Leary. Lemon's fumble recover along with a recovery by Jake Turkowski rounded out the turnovers for CSS.
Leading the way in tackles for the Saints were Sean Graskey and Zack Dubanoski with eight a piece. Leary added six and Jordan Rasmussen had five to lead CSS. Christopher Doran, Dubanoski and Rasmussen also each had a sack on the day.
Offensively for the Saints, Alex Thiry went 14-24 for 263 yards and a touchdown along with an interception.
Nehowig led the rushing attack with 86 yards on 26 carries.
Bennett led the way receiving with six catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Keegan O'Neill had four catches for 66 yards, and Nick Thiry and Nehowig had two catches a piece with 39 and 20 yards respectively to round out the receiving for CSS.
Punter Justin Bosman had a program record 72-yard punt as he averaged 38.7 yards per punt on the day, along with three inside the 20 yard line.
The Saints (6-0, 5-0 UMAC) will hit the road to take on the Crown College Storm (0-6, 0-5 UMAC) in St. Bonifacious, Minn. next Saturday at 1 p.m. The action can be heard at csssaints.com on Game Central.