Sometimes it all comes together for a team. Rushing, passing, defense, special teams, returns and coaching all come together in a virtually perfect effort that demonstrates the true art of how football is meant to be played. On Saturday, the St. Thomas Tommies put together such an effort to win their first home game of the year, a 46-0 win over the Eagles of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
The Tommies put together a comprehensive game plan on Saturday, and implemented it to near perfection. They scored in all four quarters, rolled up 519 yards of total offense, 302 on the ground, held the Eagles to 133, were 9-16 on third down conversions, 4-4 on fourth down, and shutout UWLC. About the only thing that can be said negatively is that the team lost a fumble, otherwise it was an absolutely dominating performance.
What made the victory so incredibly satisfying was the fact that everyone got to participate in the victory. Three different quarterbacks got to play, nine different players carried the ball, and 12 different receivers caught passes. This was the kind of team effort that ensures that if a key injury happens later in the season, the next man to step up is already game ready.
Matt O’Connell started at QB for St. Thomas and had a solid game before turning over the reins over to his backups. He was 9-15 passing for 99 yards and a touchdown, and chipped in 11 carries for 64 yards as well. Jack Gould took over and went 11-13 for 93 yards and two scores. There was virtually no drop off between the two.
While O’Connell led the Tommies in rushing, six other carriers had at least 20 yards on the ground. RB Jack Kaiser had 12 carries for 60 yards and a TD, and Jack Gilliland had a 40 yard run for a touchdown. It was an unbelievable distribution of the ball that showed how deep this Tommies team is.
This carried over onto the defensive side of the ball as well, where 27 different players were involved in tackles. Cavan Metzler led the way with nine total tackles, including six solo, but after that eight other players made at least three plays in the game.
While the Tommies were seemingly moving the ball at will, the Eagles could not get rolling at all. QB Colton Peterson completed just six of 13 passes for 66 yards and Eric Rahman could only muster 36 yards off of nine carries.
The Tommies scored on their first two possessions of the game. O’Connell’s 32-yard pass to Nick Waldvogel gave St. Thomas a 7-0 lead and Gilliland scored on a perfectly designed reverse that went 40 yards and put the Tommies up 14-0.
The next two drives were stopped by the Eagles, but the Tommies would get back on the board with 1:52 left on the half. A nine minute drive that started at the St. Thomas four yard line was capped off by a 10-yard pass to Waldvogel by Gould to make it 21-0 at half-time.
The Tommies would add touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half. Gould completed a seven yard pass to Charlie Dowdle for the first score and the Tommies went for two to make it 29-0. On the second drive, Kaiser topped off a 13-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
On the Eagles next possession, Ben Hertrampf rushed on a second and eight, but he was stuffed and eventually fumbled the ball. It was recovered by Cavan Metzler who ran it back 33 yards for the score, and the 43-0 lead.
The Tommies added a 36-yard Paul Graupner field goal in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring. The 46-0 rout was a huge opening game victory for the Tommies. St. Thomas is off this week before hosting St. John’s on the 27th.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Writer Covering the MIAC