Fast & Fuious 4th Quarter Ends With St. Thomas Tommies on Top
For three quarters on Sunday, the St. Thomas Tommies looked in complete control. Their defense had held Concordia to 10 points, and the triple-option attack, led by quarterback Griffin Neal, was struggling to mount a consistent attack. That is until the fourth quarter. In the final frame the Cobbers came to life and forced the Tommies offense to pull out a late score to win the game.
The Tommies would score first on their opening drive of the game. John Gould started at quarterback for St. Thomas, and on the first four plays he handed to Jack Kaiser who gained 27 yards down to the Concordia 37. From there Gould hit Jack Gilliland for a 37-yard score and a 7-0 lead.
At the start of the second quarter Neal tied the score when he capped off a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Alex McLean carried the ball five times on the drive for 17 yards, and Neal had four carries for 28-yards and the score.
Following the touchdown, Gould and the Tommies responded immediately. Riding the legs of Kaiser again, the team moved 74-yards on 14-plays, and retook the lead when Gould completed a pass to Charlie Dowdle for four-yards. Kaiser had eight carries on the drive for 34 yards, and Gould completed three of five passes for 37 yards to put the Tommies up 14-7. That is how the first half would end.
In the second half St. Thomas received the ball first and after a 41-yard return by Jordan Mills the team began at the Concordia 49. Kaiser got the drive rolling with a 43-yard carry on the first play of the series. Three plays later Gould scored from two-yards out and the Tommies were up 21-7.
On the Cobbers next possession they got an 18-yard field goal from Ben Wagner to cap off an 11-play drive and the score was 21-10. That is how it would remain through three quarters.
At the end of the third the Cobbers got the ball with 4:28 left. The team stayed on the ground, moving 70-yards in nine-plays before Neal went up top to Brandon Zylstra for a 36-yard score that cut the Tommies lead to 21-17.
On the Tommies next possession Gould completed a pass to Nick Waldvogel for 25-yards, but the Cobbers forced a fumble that was recovered by Dan Berden. Three plays later Neal scored from 12-yards out to put the Cobbers on top for the first time in the game. McLean had the big play of the drive. His run on second and one went for 43-yards down to the 12. From there Neal scored to make the score 24-21 Concordia.
Needing a big score, the St. Thomas offense responded right away. Gould led the team on an 11-play, 73-yard drive that led to a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dowdle and gave the Tommies the lead again. Gould completed all four of his pass attempts on the drive for 43 yards and also had an 11-yard run.
Not to be outdone, the Cobbers responded themselves. A holding penalty put the ball at the Concordia six to begin the possession, but on second and eight Zach Southwick gave the team some needed breathing room with a 20-yard run. Four plays later Domenic Fraboni broke a couple of tackles and raced 61-yards for the score and a 31-28 Concordia lead.
Gould would need to make a big play again, and that is what he did on the first play of his team’s next possession. Gould faded back to pass and found Dowdle open, hitting him perfectly in stride for the 59-yard touchdown pass.
Up 35-31 the Tommies needed a big defensive stop, and that is just what they were about to get. The Cobbers began at their own 26 and moved quickly in four plays to the St. Thomas 47. It looked like Concordia would respond once again, but on first and ten Neal’s pass was intercepted by Sean Hamlin at the Tommies 21. Jack Kaiser gained two first downs on the ground running out the clock, and St. Thomas escaped with an amazing victory.
Making his first start for St. Thomas, Gould completed 15 of 23 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Dowdle. The wide out had 104 yards receiving to go with his three scores, and Gilliland added another 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. On the ground Kaiser had 157 yards on 23 carried for a 6.8 yards per carry average. Rutger Heffelfinger made 13 tackles.
The Cobbers got 324 yards rushing on the ground, let by Domenic Fraboni who had 89 yards and a score on just seven carries. McLean added 83 and Neal 82 of his own on the ground. Zylstra had 100 yards receiving.
Next Saturday the St. Thomas Tommies travel to Carleton to play the Knights. Concordia hosts Gustavus Adolphus.
By Robert Pannier