/seasons/2018/contrib/201809021enn29

Football eases past Crown in season opener

ST. BONIFACIUS, Minn. – Senior quarterback Ricardo Johnson III threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns, as the St. Olaf College football team raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead on its way to a 49-14 victory at Crown College in its season opener on Friday evening at KleinBank Stadium.

Box Score

Johnson III connected with first-year wideout Gabe Alada for a pair of touchdowns as the senior established a new career-high with his 298 yards for St. Olaf (1-0). Alada caught five passes for 119 yards on the night, while Gonzalo Pirela and Ben Smithsonalso hauled in touchdowns from Johnson III. Defensively, the Oles limited Crown (0-1) to 107 yards in the game, while racking up 403 yards of their own.

Pirela finished with six receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, with Smithson bringing in two catches for 51 yards. Ben DanielsonVernon Green and Khayleb Willis each rushed for touchdowns as well. The victory was St. Olaf's fourth in a row in season openers. The 49 points were the most for the Oles since a 56-13 victory over Grinnell in last season's opener, giving St. Olaf 105 points in its last two season-opening games.

After the teams exchanged punts on their first two possessions, the Oles opened the scoring on a 29-yard strike from Johnson III to Alada with 7:50 to cap a brief four-play scoring drive. The St. Olaf defense forced a three-and-out on Crown's next possession, including back-to-back tackles for a loss by Josh Vannornam and Shiloh Goodwin, before the offense put together its second-straight scoring drive. This time, St. Olaf covered 63 yards in eight plays, culminating in an eight-yard touchdown run by Willis on a fourth down and one play.

Leading 14-0 after one quarter, the Oles broke the game wide open in the second, scoring three more touchdowns to open up the 35-0 lead. Just 1:54 into the second, Johnson III hit Smithson for a 51-yard touchdown pass on a third down play for the first score of the quarter. A little over two minutes later, Green found the end zone from four yards out in his first collegiate game following a 44-yard connection between Johnson III and Alada that set the Oles up in the red zone.

St. Olaf closed the first half's scoring in the two-minute drill, as Johnson III found Pirela for back-to-back first downs and, two plays later, again hit Pirela for a 13-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining in the half.

Neither team managed any points in the third quarter until Alada caught his second touchdown of the night from Johnson III with 3:45 to go in the quarter to make it a 42-0 game. After taking over in the backfield late in the third quarter, Danielson scored from nine yards out for his first-career touchdown on the first drive of the fourth for St. Olaf's final score of the game.

Crown's Jared Gilmore threw a five-yard touchdown to George Green and a 25-yard scoring pass to Domonquie Guy to get the hosts on the board in the final 7:23 of the contest.

Vannornam had a team-high seven tackles for St. Olaf, including two and a half for a loss with half a sack. First-years Nick Sabatinoand Stephon Kindle both had interceptions for the Oles, who limited the Storm to an average of 2.1 yards per play for the game and to 2-of-13 on third down.

Next up for the Oles is the team's home opener against Luther on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. at Klein Field at Manitou.

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D3football.com Top 25, preseason

The D3football.com Top 25, entering the 2019 season. This is the 17th season of the D3football.com Top 25.

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1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (24) 15-0 624
2 Mount Union (1) 14-1 599
3 St. John's 12-1 566
4 UW-Whitewater 12-1 555
5 North Central (Ill.) 10-2 482
6 Johns Hopkins 12-2 457
7 St. Thomas 8-2 414
8 Muhlenberg 11-2 405
9 Hardin-Simmons 9-2 397
10 Bethel 11-2 396  
11 Whitworth 10-1 336  
12 Linfield 7-2 291  
13 Brockport 11-1 230  
14 Delaware Valley 9-2 223  
15 Illinois Wesleyan 8-2 197  
16 Berry 10-2 190  
17 John Carroll 9-2 168  
18 Wittenberg 9-1 162  
19 RPI 10-2 152  
20 Centre 10-2 137  
21 Washington and Jefferson 9-2 132  
22 Wheaton (Ill.) 8-2 109  
23 Wabash 9-1 105  
24 Randolph-Macon 9-3 91  
25 St. Norbert 10-2 83

Others receiving votes: Trine 73; UW-La Crosse 71; Wartburg 61; Wesley 59; Washington U. 58; Montclair State 49; Alfred 48; Ithaca 42; UW-Oshkosh 40; Central 29; Case Western Reserve 25; Baldwin Wallace 20; Salisbury 15; Trinity (Texas) 10; Hope 10; Redlands 6; Marietta 3; Trinity (Conn.) 3, MIT 2.

The D3football.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis.