Story and photo courtesy of St. Thomas Athletics
St. Thomas survived six turnovers as Matt O’Connell threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third to lead the Tommies to a 28-14 win over Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday in O’Shaughnessy Stadium.
The No. 3-rated Tommies (5-0, 3-0 MIAC) never trailed in the game and used a stingy defense to hold off the Gusties (2-3, 1-3) for the second straight year in a close game on Palmer Field. St. Thomas prevailed last year 20-7.
The win sets up a showdown for first place next Saturday at home against undefeated Bethel, rated No. 7 in Division III. The Royals scored on the last play of their game, with no time remaining, and converted a two-point PAT to edge previously unbeaten Concordia 15-14.
Linebacker Tremayne Williams came up with two key turnovers for the Tommies, a third-quarter fumble recovery and a fourth-quarter interception that led to their final touchdown to seal the win after Gustavus had closed within 21-14.
It was the 29th regular-season win in a row for St. Thomas, which also has won 21 straight in the MIAC and 10 straight at home.
Gustavus came into the game with the MIAC’s leading ground game, but the Tommies recorded a school-record 12 sacks of quarterback Muresuk Mena, who lost 19 yards (including sacks) after coming into the game with a 117-yard rushing average. The Gusties had only 32 net yards in 42 rushes against the Tommies’ defense, which came into the game ranked No. 6 in Division III at 53.5 yards per game.
O’Connell finished with 147 yards on the ground, including a 74-yard touchdown run, and completed 20 of 34 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.