John Gould Comes Up Gold in St. Thomas Tommies Opening Round Victory, 57-14
Through the first quarter the La Verne Leopards had proven that they came from Southern California ready to battle, but St. Thomas proved to be too much on this day. The Tommies put up 21-points in the third quarter and rolled behind the performance of their senior quarterback, John Gould, to a 57-14 victory that advances St. Thomas to the second round of the Division-III football playoffs.
Neither team was able to score on their first three possession, although the Tommies were moving the ball quite efficiently, they were simply unable to score early. On their fourth possession that would change.
St. Thomas began the drive at their own 32. An incomplete pass by Gould started the drive and a four-yard run by Jordan Roberts set up third and 6, as it looked like this drive was going nowhere as well. However, Gould found Nick Waldvogel for 56-yards before he was brought down at the La Verne six-yard-line. Roberts then scored on the next play and with the two-point conversion it was 8-0.
On the Leopards next possession it looked like they may find an opening that could have tied the score, but Eric Sutton made a great play to force a fumble by the La Verne ball carrier. Alex Stevson recovered the fumble at the Leopards 36. On the next play Gould found Roberts for the touchdown and the game had decidedly swung in the Tommies’ favor.
La Verne mounted an impressive drive on their next possession but on fourth and 4 at the St. Thomas 34 they were stopped, giving the ball back to Gould. Again, the senior quarterback used the big play, throwing deep to Charlie Dowdle for the 67-yard touchdown and a 21-point Tommies lead.
The Leopards had another shot to get on the board before the half, but a fumble forced by Jack Kaiser gave the ball back to St. Thomas. That left the score 21-0, which is how the two teams would head into the half.
The Tommies began the second half with the ball, but the La Verne defense came up big, intercepting a Gould pass and returning it to the Tommies 30-yard-line. Twice it looked like the St. Thomas defense may stop the drive, but the Leopards got big plays to keep it alive. Travis Sparks-Jackson rushed for six-yards on third and 2, and Josh Evans completed an 11-yard pass on fourth and 7 to move the ball to the St. Thomas two. After an eight-yard loss Evans found Ezra Broadus for the 10-yard touchdown, and suddenly it was a game. It wouldn’t be so for long.
Up by 14 now, the Tommies responded right away. Gould made three big pass plays, including a big 34-yard pass to Waldvogel. On the sixth play of the drive Tucker Trettel made an impressive run of 32-yards for the score. With the two-point conversion it was 29-7.
St. Thomas would add to the lead on their next possession. A little trickery started the drive when Roberts took the halfback option and made a great pass to Matt Christenson, who was double-covered, however, Christenson made a fine catch and was pushed out of bounds, but not before the 34-yard completion. Seven plays later Jack Gilliland took the ball on an end around and rushed 15-yards for the score to extend the lead to 36-7.
The Tommies would make it 43-7 on their next possession thanks, in part, to another big pass by Gould. Starting from the La Verne 38, the Tommies QB’s first pass was incomplete, but his second pass attempt went to Gilliland for 37-yards. Two plays later Dominic Truoccolo scored from one-yard out to extend the lead to 36.
The Leopards would add another score. Evans 60-yard pass to Alex Villalobos put the ball at the St. Thomas eight. Two plays later Sparks-Jackson scored to make it a 43-14 game.
The Tommies answered on their next two possessions. Trettel scored from one-yard out to make it 5o-14, and Jeremy Molina’s 16-yard run made it a 57-14 game. That was the final score.
The St. Thomas Tommies continue to put up big numbers. They rushed for 200-yards and passed for 386 more. Gould was spot on all day, completing 15 of 28 passes for 310-yards and a touchdown. Roberts had 19-carries for 75-yards and a score, and Trettel had 8-carries for 67-yards and 2 TDs. Dowdle had 6-catches for 113-yards and a touchdown for the Tommies and Waldvogel had 4-catches for 110-yards.
Sparks-Jackson had 34-carries for 155-yards and a TD. Villalobos made 2-catches for 69-yards.
Next weekend the St. Thomas Tommies will welcome archrival St. John’s to St. Paul for Round 2 of the Division-III playoffs. This is the first time that the two rivals have ever met in the playoffs.
By Robert Pannier