MENOMONIE, Wis. — Two interceptions and nine team penalties proved too much to overcome as St. Thomas fell to Wisconsin-Stout 25-22 Saturday at Williams Stadium.
The loss snapped a 24-game regular season winning streak stretching back three years. The Tommies’ last regular season defeat was a 35-24 loss to Bethel on Oct. 25, 2014.
“Certainly we don’t want to have a failure of this magnitude,” coach Glenn Caruso said. “This is an enormous failure for us, and we’re fortunate that it feels awkward because we don’t have them too much, but we have to be able to overcome it.”
Several problems that plagued the Tommie offense in the victory over Wisconsin-Eau Claire in Week 1 came back to haunt St. Thomas in what Caruso described as a “big, catastrophic loss.”
“Our protection was better than it was last week, but it’s still not where it needs to be,” Caruso said. “We had two scenarios in the first half … where it was just one guy breaking down. We can’t have that. It doesn’t matter how miniscule it seems; we can’t have anything breaking down.”
The lack of consistent pass protection up front hasn’t helped quarterback Jacques Perra develop into the poised field general the team has hoped he would be. Stout sacked Perra four times and put him under constant pressure. The junior quarterback completed 51 percent of his passes for 215 yards. He was picked off twice and overthrew his receivers on several occasions.
Perra didn’t receive much help from his backfield this time out. Starting running back Jordan Roberts averaged under three yards per carry, rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts. The Tommies in total rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Neither the defense nor the special teams unit were able to pick up much of the slack for the offense. The defense was on the field for 33 minutes over 16 possessions by the Stout offense and was carved up for three passing touchdowns, one of which went for 77 yards. Kicker Carter Schmitz had his only field goal attempt, a 40-yard try, blocked and went 2-3 on point-after kicks.
“Our kicking woes certainly caught up with us,” Caruso said. “It was many failures on all three facets that led to (the loss), but it was the kicking woes that are obvious to see because it either goes in or it doesn’t.”
The loss came just a week after Caruso earned his 100th victory with the Tommies. Caruso is now 100-16 in his 10 seasons at St. Thomas.
Caruso and his players hope to fix the play of all three facets before next week’s matchup against Carleton.
“We got flat-out beat, but I know this team is going to come back from it,” defensive back Mark Dowdle said. “The best thing that we can do at the moment is embrace this loss and hopefully grow from it.”
Noah Brown can be reached at email@example.com.
Carolyn Meyer, Mary Brickner, Sophie Carson and Natalie Koerbitz also contributed to this report.