Slideshow by Rita Kovtun, chief photo editor
RIVER FALLS, WIS. — Senior running back Colin Tobin had a monster game Saturday as the Tommie’s beat Wisconsin-River Falls 45-22 in the Falcon’s season opener.
After St. Norbert College shut him down last week, Tobin exploded for 157 total yards and came one touchdown short of a school record with four rushing scores in the game.
“It’s good to find the end zone. It’s a relief,” Tobin said. “The yards will come; but we just have to do our jobs, and I think we executed today.”
Falcon’s junior kicker Chad Blair made a 23-yard field goal on the game’s opening drive to give River Falls a 3-0 lead. Senior running back Taylor Edwards had 11 touches on the 19-play drive in nine minutes.
Coach Glenn Caruso said the long-opening drive gave them a chance to see first-year River Falls coach Matt Walker’s offense.
“We didn’t know who this head coach was coming in,” Caruso said. “We didn’t have any film. Regardless of whether they scored or didn’t, we needed to see a lot of plays to figure out what they were going to do.”
“Going into the game we knew Edwards was a good running back,” senior linebacker Tony Danna said. “We gave up a good amount of yards; but we held them to a field goal, adjusted, and after that I felt like we did pretty good.”
Danna and the Tommie defense held Edwards to 58 yards on 21 carries. Danna made 13 tackles including half a sack and recovered a fumble.
“It was one of those days where it was good to be an inside linebacker,” Danna said. “Give (the defensive lineman) credit because they clogged up the holes for the inside backers.”
Tobin came out hot in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the first three minutes.
Senior Fritz Waldvogel flipped the half’s opening kickoff to sophomore Kyle Whitley on a reverse play. Whitley got the edge, returning the kick to the River Falls one-yard line, and Tobin took it in from there.
“Going in to halftime coach (Travis) Walch said, ‘Why don’t we come back with the reverse in the second half?’ and we said, ‘Absolutely. Put it in the hands of Kyle Whitley,’” Caruso said.
Tobin followed up the short touchdown with a long one, capitalizing on a 73-yard scamper for his fourth score of the game, putting St. Thomas ahead 31-3.
“There was a wide open hole, and when you see green grass like that you’ve just got to go,” Tobin said. “You kick it into gear. Everyone was down field blocking. It’s great to see everyone executing the way they did.”
River Falls answered with back-to-back touchdowns.
The first came on a quick slant from senior quarterback B.J. Letourneau to junior wide receiver Nate Brandt, who beat the Tommie secondary for an 80-yard score with 5:49 left in the third quarter. Brandt lead the Falcons 11 catches, 136 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Letourneau followed with a touchdown on the ground, scoring on a five-yard scramble on fourth and goal to make the score 31-15.
Tommie senior quarterback Dakota Tracy sealed the game with a fourth-and-goal rushing touchdown of his own to put St. Thomas ahead 38-15 with 9:14 left in the game. Tracy’s fourth quarter run was the first Tommie touchdown by anyone but Colin Tobin.
After breaking P.J. Theisen’s career receptions record last week, senior receiver Fritz Waldvogel needed 46 receiving yards Saturday to break Theisen’s record for career receiving yards.
Waldvogel ended the game with four catches for 40 yards and needs only six next Saturday against St. Olaf to tie the record.
The Tommies committed 11 penalties for 89 yards Saturday, and Caruso said there is “no love lost for the University of St. Thomas.”
One referee called a false start on “pretty much the entire offensive line” during Saturday’s game.
“I think our kids understand that it’s us against the world,” Caruso said.
Alex Keil can be reached email@example.com.