Two backup quarterbacks, two freshmen running backs and a stingy defense joined forces Saturday to lead St. Thomas to a 30-14 win over Augsburg in MIAC football.
The No. 3 Tommies (8-0, 6-0 MIAC) maintained a one-game lead over second-place Concordia heading into next Saturday's showdown against the Cobbers (7-1, 5-1 MIAC) in Moorhead. They defeated Carleton 51-27 at home.
With the win, St. Thomas extended its regular-season winning streaks to 32 overall and 25 in the MIAC, and now has won 12 in a row in O'Shaughnessy Stadium.
Quarterback Ben Duncan, starting in place of injured Matt O'Connell, led the Tommies to a 20-0 halftime before leaving the game with a injury early in the third quarter. Third-string quarterback Kyler Anderson replaced him and played the rest of the game.
St. Thomas took advantage of excellent field position on its three first-half scoring drives, twice starting at the Augsburg 47 and the other time at the UST 49, and relied on a ground game that piled up 175 yards on 28 rushes.
After the defense held the Auggies on their opening series –- one of four three-and-out possessions in the first half –- St. Thomas needed only four plays get on the board. Duncan ran in from the 12 after a 31-yard run by freshman Brenton Braddock.
Jack Kaiser, another freshman running back, ran 21 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter. Kaiser rushed for 38 yards on the 51-yard, five-play drive, and finished the half with 77 yards and the game with 110; Braddock had 78.
Duncan picked up his second rushing touchdown, another sneak from one yard out, to give St. Thomas a 20-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half.
The Tommies' defense bottled up Augsburg quarterback Ayrton Scott in the first half, stuffing him on runs up the middle and repeatedly flushing him out of the pocket. The freshman ranks No. 3 in NCAA Division III with 371 yards of offense per game, including 148 yards (No. 7) on the ground, but needed runs of 16 and 13 yards late in the half to finish with 32 yards on 10 rushes. He was 4 of 17 for 51 yards and one interception.
Scott got on track on Augsburg's second drive in the third quarter. Starting at his own 8, he ran for 38 yards and passed for 46, the last seven on a touchdown pass to Tyler Swanson to cut the St. Thomas lead to 20-7.
The Tommies finished their scoring with a 27-yard Paul Graupner field goal and a fourth-down, one-yard touchdown plunge by Dominic Truoccolo, another freshman running back.
Scott scored on a seven-yard touchdown run with 9.6 seconds left in the game.