No. 10-ranked St. Thomas rode a stingy defense and a steady placekicker in Saturday's 20-17 defeat of No. 6-ranked St. John's in MIAC football at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis.
The first football game played in the seven-year-old Minnesota Twins' stadium, contested on a warm, humid day, drew an all-time Division III attendance of 37,355.
St. Thomas (3-1 overall, 2-0 MIAC) pushed its win streak in the series to four games -- its most consecutive wins over SJU in 60 seasons since UST won each time from 1954-57.
Coach Glenn Caruso's Tommie defense limited the previously unbeaten Johnnies to just six first downs and 0-for-11 on third-down conversions, with one yard of net rushing on 20 carries. St. Thomas held possession for 25 of the 30 minutes on the clock after halftime.
UST senior Bryan Steinsapir, who grew up playing soccer in Santiago, Chile, kicked a 34-yard field goal late in the second quarter for a 17-10 halftime lead. Steinsapir booted a 43-yarder with 4:30 to play in the third-quarter for 20-17 lead.
The Johnnies (3-1, 2-1) struck quickly after a partially-blocked punt with under 7:00 to go was recovered at the Johnnie 49-yard-line. Jackson Erdmann's hit Evan Clark on a 40-yard scoring pass to cap a two-play, 51-yard drive that pulled them within 20-17.
The St. John's defense forced a punt, but with the clock under 3:00, St. John's had incomplete passes on third and fourth down to turn it over at the SJU 30. St. Thomas converted on a 4th-and-1 QB sneak with just under 2:00 to play and was able to run out the clock.
Tommie junior QB Jacques Perra completed 12-of-24 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He hit Matt Christenson for a 31-yard scoring strike in the first quarter to erase the only St. John's lead of 3-0. Perra hit quarterback turned wide receiver Gabe Green with a 61-yard scoring pass in the second quarter. Senior fullback Jeremy Molina had a career-best 61 rushing yards on nine carries.
UST's Austin Jochum had 2.5 tackles for loss with one solo and two assisted sacks, and senior linebacker Dylan Andew was in on eight tackles.
Erdmann completed 10-of-22 for 127 yards and two touchdowns.