Reporter, Zach Pagano / Videographer, Michael Ewen
SLIDESHOW: From Jeff Hilliard's strong play at corner to Colin Tobin diving into the end zone, photographer Marc Lane captured St. Thomas' blowout of the Pipers. (Marc Lane/TommieMedia)
The St. Thomas football team flexed its muscles Saturday, improving to 3-0 on the season with an overwhelming 63-10 victory at Hamline. The 63-point performance was St. Thomas’ highest point total in 20 years.
“You never go into a game expecting you’ll score 63 points but we just played our hearts out,” said freshman defensive end Ayo Idowu. “The best part was the fact that we came in after halftime and kept up the tempo we had the whole game.”
Hamline came into the contest with a record of 1-1 after losing to Gustavus in overtime last week. Last year’s game against Hamline resulted in a 24-21 win for the Tommies, but just a year later St. Thomas’ improvement was evident.
“We were clicking offensively, defensively, and on the special teams,” said junior defensive back Matt Griswold. “We worked hard all week and it paid off. We’re happy with the result.”
Tommie running back Ben Wartman put on a show as he rushed for 155 yards and four touchdowns. His big day on the ground was the 10th game out of the last 11 contests in which he broke 100 yards. The junior also caught three passes for 40 yards.
Tommie offense got going early and often
Wartman carried the ball seven times on the opening drive, finishing with a 1-yard touchdown. Despite the absence of linebacker Tommy Becker, the Tommie defense stood strong against a stellar passing offense. St. Thomas forced the Pipers to go three and out on its opening drive.
On St. Thomas’ second drive, sophomore quarterback Greg Morse hooked up with Fritz Waldvogel, Tony Margarit and Nick Gleisner on first down receptions. A 28-yard Wartman reception brought the Tommies inside the Pipers’ 10-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Dakota Tracy finished from there rolling outside and diving on the pylon for a 14-0 lead.
Despite Hamline quarterback Adam Meyer finding an array of receivers, particularly Tim Queck, the Tommies shut down the deep pass with great coverage from defensive backs Bryan Villar and Jeff Hillard. St. Thomas was also solid against Hamline running backs Blake Cook and Sean Traynor.
Halfway through the second quarter, a 42-yard catch by Waldvogel set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Wartman, giving the Tommies a 21-0 cushion.
Poor special teams hurt Hamline
Special teams were a major factor against Hamline. The mishaps started when Hamline’s long snap went over the punter’s head and gave the Tommies the ball on Hamline’s 21-yard line. Four Wartman rushes later, the Tommies led 28-0.
With two minutes left in the half, junior Danny Kane came up with a big sack on Meyer. Then Hamline once again snapped the ball over the punter’s head, setting the Tommies up at the Pipers’ 40-yard line. Morse quickly completed three consecutive passes, the third being a 22-yard touchdown strike to Waldvogel, putting St. Thomas up 35-0 at the half.
Tommies continued offensive attack in second half
Special teams woes continued for the Pipers in the second half, as Hillard blocked a punt on Hamline’s first possession. Tyler Erstad recovered the ball, and the Tommies capitalized with a 24-yard touchdown strike from Morse to Waldvogel on fourth down. Waldvogel reeled in eight catches for 139 yards and scored two touchdowns on the day.
Hamline entered the Tommie redzone late in the third quarter, but safety Brady Ervin was there to intercept Meyer’s fourth down pass in the end zone.
The Tommies added to its lead with a seven-play, 80-yard drive culminating with Wartman’s score from 48 yards out.
With several Tommie starters finished for the game, the Pipers finally got on the scoreboard with a 5-yard touchdown reception from running back John Yates. Hamline tacked on a late field goal by Derek Johnson from 35 yards out to make the score 49-10.
Tobin pours it on late
Even with a comfortable lead, St. Thomas seemed unsatisfied. Colin Tobin carried the ball on all four plays of a scoring drive that lasted just two minutes, capping it off with a 45-yard touchdown scamper.
After Erstad recovered a Piper fumble, St. Thomas’ reserves struck again with Tobin’s 1-yard touchdown. Tobin finished with 173 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Tommie offense proved to be a nightmare for the Pipers, amassing 599 total yards while posting 63 points. St. Thomas converted nine of 12 third and fourth down plays and Morse went 14 for 21 through the air on the day for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
In addition to Kane’s sack, Kyle Rynertson also recorded a late sack on backup quarterback Connor Sathre. The Tommie defense held the Pipers to 40 rushing yards on 29 carries.
The Tommies will play Gustavus (1-2) next Saturday at home. The Gusties needed an overtime period to defeat Hamline last Saturday and were handily defeated by St. John’s today. The Tommies ruined the Gustavus’ homecoming last season, beating them 30-22.
Danny Grimmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org