|Chinni Oji's first-quarter
interception set up St. Thomas' third TD of the game.
Photo by Scott Pierson, d3photography.com
St. Thomas exploded to an early lead and overwhelmed Hobart 47-7 Saturday, advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Division III football playoffs for the second straight year.
The No. 4 Tommies (13-0) will face UW-Oshkosh on Dec. 8 at a site to be announced Sunday, with the victor moving on to the national championship game, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on Dec. 14 in Salem, Va.
Freshman Brenton Braddock ran for four short touchdowns against No. 7 Hobart (12-1) and, with 94 yards on the ground, reached 1,008 rushing yards for the season. Sophomore wide receiver Dan Ferrazzo had his first 100-yard day, catching six balls for 103 yards and five first downs and also running for a pair of two-point conversions.
St. Thomas matched last year's 13-0 start for the best in school history and won its 16th game in a row in O'Shaughnessy Stadium. The Tommies are 33-2 at home in coach Glenn Caruso's five years, and he tied Frank Deig for most career coaching victories with 56.
St. Thomas took advantage of exceptional field position in the first half, with an average starting position at its 45, while Hobart's average starting position for all 13 drives in the game was its 19.
Freshman Wolfgang Dvorak blocked a punt after Hobart's opening three-and-out series and Kyle Coyne recovered on the Statesmen's four-yard line. Two plays later, Braddock scored the first of four rushing touchdowns and Ferrazzo, the holder on the extra-point kick, ran in a two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Hobart lost standout linebacker Devin Worthington on its first defensive play to a game-ending leg injury.
Hobart was limited offensively, as the St. Thomas (13-0) defense held the Statesmen to just 294 yards of total offense. Junior tailback Steven Webb added his fifth 100-yard rushing game on the season, gaining 103 yards on just 10 carries, including the Statesmen's lone touchdown. Senior rusher Bobby Dougherty contributed another 39 yards on the ground, giving him 1,024 for the season. Webb (1,197) and Dougherty (1,024) mark the first time that Hobart has had two 1,000-yard rushers since 1977, when Ed Cooney (1,197) and Jack Davis (1,074) accomplished the feat. The Statesmen struggled to move the ball through the air, completing just 16 of 32 passes for 154 yards with three interceptions.
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