|Photo by Scott Pierson, d3photography.com|
St. John's recovered a second-down goal-line fumble with 19 seconds left to play and came away with a 12-9 victory over host St. Thomas before a standing-room crowd of 7,711 fans Saturday in MIAC football play at UST's O'Shaughnessy Stadium.
Seven teams are now within one game of the lead in the MIAC race with Concordia-Moorhead and Carleton tied at 3-1; the Johnnies, Tommies and Bethel at 3-2; and Augsburg and Gustavus at 2-2.
The Tommies, who outgained the Johnnies 281-162 in total yards, were poised to take the lead in the final 45 seconds after David Sauer's 25-yard pass to wide receiver Fritz Waldvogel, who made a diving catch at the SJU 1-yard line with 1:00 to go.
After a Johnnie timeout, UST's Ben Wartman rushed up the middle but the ball was spotted short of the goal line. On second down and inches, the Tommie handoff was fumbled and recovered by Kyle Schroeder of St. John's, and the Johnnies were able to run out the clock.
St. John's (5-2 overall, 3-2 MIAC) had no penalties on the game and survived four turnovers and a mere 34 passing yards in beating UST for the 11th year in a row.
The Tommies (4-2, 3-2) had only three penalties, but one -- a running-into-the kicker penalty -- kept a drive alive. The Johnnies missed a 44-yard field goal but the 5-yard penalty gave them fourth-and-1, which they converted and eventually capped off a 17-play third-quarter drive to score a go-ahead TD on quarterback Joe Boyle's 1-yard run. A two-point pass failed and SJU led 12-7.
In the final 3:30, the Tommies topped the Johnnies on three downs and forced a punting situation. St. John's chose to take a safety instead of risking a punt block, making in 12-9 with 3:03 to go. The Tommies took the ensuing kick and returned the ball to the UST 44.
On UST's clutch final drive with time winding down, Sauer completed four of five passes for 59 yards, capped by Waldvogel's reception at the Johnnie 1-yard line. But the Tommies were unable to get the go-ahead score.
On UST's first possession of the game, Sauer completed a fourth-down trick play for a 21-yard touchdown to tight end Jake Friederichs. But the Tommie offense was kept off the scoreboard the rest of the game. Waldvogel had six catches for 63 yards. Wartman rushed 24 times for 90 yards.
For St. John's, Jakob Reding rushed for 94 yards on 15 carries. Reding had a 27-yard scoring run two plays after a deflected punt gave SJU the ball at the Tommie 41-yard line. But UST blocked the PAT try to keep the lead at 7-6.
For the Tommie defense, Brady Ervin and Tommy Becker had interceptions; Tony Danna had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery; and Kirk Baglien had a fumble recovery.
St. John's got seven solo tackles and one pass breakup by Drew Stifter, 10 tackles by Ryan Wimmer and five tackles, a fumble recovery and a partially blocked punt by Nick Kotsmith.