28-0 second-half run sends Tommies back to quarterfinals
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Colin Tobin rushed 39 times for 258 yards and Fritz Waldvogel contributed 336 all-purpose yards -- all career highs -- and the host Tommies (12-0) outscored the Fighting Scots of Monmouth (10-2) 28-0 in the second half of Saturday's 38-10 NCAA Division III football playoff victory at O'Shaughnessy Stadium.
The Tommies, who survived four turnovers, advance to the NCAA quarterfinals round for the third year in a row. They'll face St. John Fisher (N.Y.) (10-2) at noon next Saturday. SJF won 27-14 on the road at Delaware Valley, while playing its fourth consecutive road game.
The Tommie defense had five sacks -- three by sophomore linebacker Tremayne Williams, who was making just his second career start. UST limited Monmouth's Division III-leading offense to 241 total yards, which is less than half of its season average of 547 yards. That included just four net rushing yards on 29 carries, and a 22% rate (4-of-18) on third- and fourth-down conversion tries.
UST has allowed just five touchdowns in its last eight games and has allowed fewer than 10 points per game this season.
"We just really take pride in getting all 11 guys to the ball," said UST senior Willy Baregi. "Eleven people, purple to the pile."
"A key today was our offensive line play," said UST coach Glenn Caruso. "We got movement off the ball and didn't allow them penetration, and Colin was able to get inside and take advantage of some seams."
UST hurt itself with several early mistakes. In the game's first 10 minutes alone, St. Thomas lost a fumble on first-and-goal at the MC se7ven-yard line and also had an interception by Jacob Wilson returned 46 yards to the Tommie 12-yard line. The game was tied 10-10 at halftime despite UST outgaining Monmouth 312-71 yards in total offense.
UST had won the opening toss and deferred. It chose to receive to start the second-half kickoff but had to drive into a stiff wind. Waldvogel helped get UST on track and he opened the second half with a 100-yard kickoff return to the end zone for a 17-10 lead. That started a 28-0 run in just 18:58 on the clock that broke open the game. That surge was capped by Waldvogel's 48-yard TD reception early in the fourth quarter.
The dash to open the second-half was the 10th career kick return TD for Waldvogel (five off punts, five off kickoffs), including four on kickoffs to open a game or half. It tied Stony Brook's Chuck Downey (1984-87) for the second most return TDs by a Division III player. The D-III record is 13 recorded by Wesley's Larry Beavers (2004-08).
Waldvogel, who also had 148 yards in receiving on six catches, had his 319 all-purpose yards on just 14 touches. He surpassed 4,000 receiving yards and 7,000 all-purpose yards in the process. UST is now 13-0 all-time when Waldvogel has multiple-TD games.
Tobin, who rushed for 206 yards the previous week against St. Scholastica, already had 189 yards at halftime. He scored two TDs and now had 10 in five career playoff games.
"We felt pretty good with the score at halftime," said Monmouth coach Steve Bell. "We knew every yard we tried to get on offense would be difficult because of their defense."
Fifth-year senior quarterback Alex Tanney passed for 360 yards in a 2009 home playoff loss to the Tommies. On Saturday he was limited to 82 yards and two first downs in the first half, including three-and-outs on five of the game's first six possessions. Tanney finished 19-of-35 for 227 yards and one TD with one lost fumble but no pickoffs. Senior Mike Blodgett had 269 all-purpose yards including 12 catches for 151 yards.
Erik Weber led the Monmouth defense with a fumble recovery, nine solos and a pass break up.
NOTES: UST is 14-1 in the four-year Caruso era in games outside of its conference… The Toms have won 37 of their last 40 games and is 24-2 at home since 2008… UST's Tim Albright extended his made PAT streak to 78, including all 55 this season and went 1-of-2 in field goals. Albright now has 146 career points, the most by a kicker in St. Thomas history… St. Thomas outscored Monmouth a combined 41-0 in the second halves of their 2009 and 2011 playoff games… UST has won its last 35 games when it has scored 21 or more points.