Defense settles in, leads Football victory

Photo by Haley Staffon
Photo by Haley Staffon

 

Sophomore RB Tucker Trettel rushed for a career-high 189 yards on 18 carries with touchdown runs of 5, 53 and 12 yards, and the Tommie defense shook off a poor first-half stretch to blank Hamline in the second half of Saturday's 71-20 St. Thomas victory in MIAC football at Palmer Field.

The No. 4-ranked Tommies (7-0 overall, 5-0 MIAC) reached milestones on the day as they secured the program's 600th all-time victory and the 100th head coaching win for Glenn Caruso (100-26) in 11 seasons in St. Paul -- at Macalester (6-12 record) and St. Thomas (94-14).

St. Thomas pushed its home-field win streak to 15; won its 20th consecutive regular-season game; won its 21st consecutive Saturday contest; and made it 17 wins in a row over MIAC opponents.

St. Thomas shut down the Pipers in the third and fourth quarters, allowing no first downs and minus-17 net yards on their 24 second-half plays. 

Overall, UST had eight sacks and three takeaways and limited Hamline to 1-of-14 on third downs. Sophomore backup Chris Fondakowski had a 49-yard interception return for TD during a 21-0 second-quarter run that expanded a slim 22-20 lead to 43-20 at halftime.

Hamline (4-3, 2-3) took advantage of 125 yards of Tommie first-half penalties and used some surgical passing by QB Justice Spriggs to score three TDs in under 12 minutes on the clock and pull within 22-20. Naji El-Araby had two short scoring runs to cap Piper touchdown drives of 83 and 40 yards, and Spriggs hit Nick Kampa for 18 yards to wrap an 80-yard drive.

But St. Thomas answered with three TDs in 5:34 span to regain momentum. The latter UST touchdown drive covered 74 yards in eight plays during the final two minutes, highlighted by a 41-yard diving catch by tight end Jackson Hull at the Piper three-yard-line. Hull caught first-half TD passes of five and three yards.

On the day St. Thomas recorded 12 tackles for loss. With 46 yards in losses on the eight sacks alone, Hamline closed the day with 29 carries for minus-40 yards.

Twelve different Tommies had either a sack, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble or an interception. Ryan Winter had two sacks and a knock down; Micah Hausman had 1.5 sacks among 2.5 tackles for loss; Anthony King-Foreman had 1.5 sacks; Jesse Addo had a strip sack and forced fumble and five solos; and Steve Harrell and Tramail Peterson added fumble recoveries.

UST had 531 total yards and nine offensive touchdowns. Senior Alex Fenske had three TD passes and directed an offense that had no turnovers over the first 33:00 on the clock. Thirteen different Tommies had at least one catch from three St. Thomas QBs that saw action. Bryan Steinsapir was 7-of-7 in PAT kicks.

For Hamline, Spriggs completed 15-of-35 passes for 159 yards and one pickoff; punter Kyle Johnson had 10 attempts and averaged just under 43 yards; Devin Ulmin had four pass break-ups; and Zach Schwalbach added a red-zone interception, a break-up, and eight tackles.

The 3 hour, 13-minute game included a combined 23 penalties for 249 yards. St. Thomas set a dubious school record with 170 yards in penalties, breaking the mark of 160 set in 1990 against Augsburg. UST's 15 penalties were one off the record set in that same Augsburg game.

St. Thomas plays next Saturday at Bethel.