Freshman Brenton Braddock ran for four touchdowns and Matt
O'Connell threw two scoring passes to lead St. Thomas to a 48-17
win over St. Norbert in the NCAA Division III playoffs Saturday in
The No. 3 Tommies (11-0) advance to the second round and will be host at noon Nov. 24 to Elmhurst (10-1), which went on the road to knock off undefeated Coe 27-24 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The win pushed St. Thomas to 5-0 all-time in NCAA first-round playoff games, including the last four years under Coach Glenn Caruso. The Tommies have won 14 games in a row in O'Shaughnessy and have a 31-2 home record in the Caruso era. It also was UST's 15th consecutive win in the month of November dating back through 2008.
St. Thomas started slow against St. Norbert and was shut out in the first quarter for only the second time this year – and the second week in a row – but ran off 27 points in the second quarter to lead 27-0 at halftime.
The Tommies took advantage of excellent field position on their first three touchdown drives, which started at their 48, at midfield and at the St. Norbert 33, the latter after a fumble recovery.
Braddock ran for three touchdowns in the quarter – from 4, 1 and 5 yards – and O'Connell hit Logan Marks in the end zone from 10 yards out for the tight end's sixth touchdown reception of the season. The third Braddock touchdown came with 18 seconds left in the half – the ninth time in 15 games that St. Thomas has scored in the closing two minutes.
O'Connell capped a second half opening drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Allen and a 34-0 lead. The Green Knights broke the shutout with a touchdown and a field goal, but Braddock ran untouched for an 82-yard touchdown – the Tommies' longest run from scrimmage this year – and a 41-10 lead. He finished with 166 yards.
After St. Norbert hit an 80-yard touchdown pass from James Tringali to Austin Williams, the Tommies closed the scoring on a nine-yard run by backup quarterback Kyler Anderson.
St. Thomas racked up 536 yards of offense and held St. Norbert to 228 yards, including only nine net rushing yards. The Tommies' rushing defense ranks in the top 10 in Division III, allowing less than 70 yards a game, and also recorded five sacks and broke up 10 passes.
St. Norbert converted its first third-down try but went 0-for-12 on third-down conversions the rest of the game.
Box: Box score: