Johnnies Defense Stymies Auggies, 61-6
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – No. 4 Saint John’s jumped out to a 33-0 first-quarter lead en route to a 61-6 Homecoming win over Augsburg on Saturday, Oct. 5, in Clemens Stadium.
The Johnnies (4-0, 3-0 MIAC) scored touchdowns on their first six offensive possessions and out-gained the Auggies (1-4, 0-3 MIAC) by a 533-108 margin.
Senior quarterback Jackson Erdmann (Rosemount, Minn.) finished 14 of 21 passing for 255 yards and five touchdowns, his sixth game of five or more passing touchdowns in his career. He directed the Johnnies on their first drive of the second quarter, and sixth consecutive score, before taking a seat.
Erdmann now has a .668 completion percentage (167 of 250 passing), 2,667 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns, to three interceptions, in his last 10 home games. The statistics compute to a mind-boggling 210.77 pass-efficiency rating.
SJU posted a pair of impressive statistical advantages in the first quarter: yards (303-7), an average of 11.7 yards per play, and first downs (12-0).
Two for Kai and Jack
Senior running back Kai Barber (Minneapolis, Minn./Totino-Grace) opened SJU’s scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run 2:52 into the game. He finished with 72 yards on only five carries and caught two passes for 37 yards, including a 29-yard scamper for a touchdown with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.
Senior tight end Jack Kemper (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) caught two passes, both for touchdowns, for 44 yards. He snagged a 10-yard touchdown early in the first quarter and caught a bullet from Erdmann, through traffic, for a 34-yard score to end a 4-play, 80-yard scoring drive 7:35 later.
Four More Takeaways
The Johnnies’ defense intercepted three passes and forced a fumble in the win. Senior safety Ryan LaCasse (Mountlake Terrace, Wash.) recorded his third interception of the season on the Auggies’ first offensive play from scrimmage, which set up Kemper’s first touchdown reception four plays later.
Senior cornerback Chris Harris (Lake Elsinore, Calif.) returned his third interception of the season 18 yards for a touchdown to give SJU a 47-0 lead with 11:09 left in the second quarter, while junior linebacker Will Sonntag (Lino Lakes, Minn./Hill-Murray) tallied his first collegiate interception on Augsburg’s opening drive of the second half.
Usual Suspects in End Zone
Sophomore Ravi Alston (Lake Elsinore, Calif./Vista Murrieta) led SJU’s receiving corps with three catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. He now has 10 receptions for 196 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games.
Senior wide receiver Andrew VanErp (Battle Lake, Minn./Ottertail Central) totaled only 32 yards on three receptions, but caught his third touchdown in as many games. The touchdown gave SJU a 20-0 lead halfway through the opening quarter, a play after Alston made a spectacular diving catch for a 32-yard gain down to the Auggies’ 10-yard line.
Three other Johnnies joined Barber (72 yards) with 40 or more rushing yards on the day. Sophomore running back Dylan Cerney (Mobridge, S.D./Mobridge-Pollock) totaled a career-high 68 yards on nine attempts, while junior quarterback Chris Backes (St. Cloud, Minn./Tech) and junior running back Nolan Prokott (Avon, Minn./Holdingford) added 48 and 40 yards, respectively. Prokott sprinted for a 20-yard score four plays after Sonntag’s interception early in the third quarter and Backes crossed the goal line from five yards out to end the game’s scoring with 10 ticks remaining in the third quarter.
Augsburg erased the shutout on the scoreboard with a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown by LeAndre Benion with 10:38 left in the third quarter. The kick return was the longest allowed by SJU in its history and the first for a touchdown since Nov. 10, 2007 (Bethel’s Tim Cornish, 86 yards). Benion’s return surpassed the previous opponent record of 95 yards, which was set by Gustavus Adolphus’ Rick Evans on Oct. 17, 1964.
Homecoming Success Continues
SJU is now 69-20-2 (.769) in 91 known Homecoming games dating back to 1924, including a 14-2 record against Augsburg. The Johnnies have won 29 of their last 34 Homecoming games.
The Johnnies host No. 7/11 Bethel (4-0, 2-0 MIAC) for a 1 p.m. kickoff next Saturday, Oct. 12, in Collegeville. The contest serves as SJU’s Tackle Cancer game to benefit the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund. All proceeds from the sales of Tackle Cancer shirts and souvenir drinking cups will be added to the monetary collection. Ninety percent of all dollars collected go directly to fund cancer research, prevention, treatment and other programs relating to the cancer community’s needs.
SJU’s Tackle Cancer game has grown from raising $1,500 in 2013 to nearly $21,000 in 2018. The Johnnies have raised $57,000 for Tackle Cancer over the last four seasons.
By St. John’s Football Staff
Featured image courtesy of Rafael Alvarez