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The Tommies are getting closer to its big face off with the Johnnies Saturday, and the anticipation is building for what could become an instant classic.
There is a rich history between these two teams, and there have been plenty of great games between the two since the teams first started meeting more than a century ago. Here are some facts about the rivalry, and some of the most memorable games between the teams:
– The last time the Tommies beat the Johnnies was Nov. 8, 1997, at the Metrodome, in Mal Scanlan’s final game as St. Thomas’ coach. The score was 31-27.
– Saturday’s clash marks the 79th meeting between the schools, which played occasionally from 1901 to 1933 but have played every year since 1940.
– The Johnnies lead the all-time series 49-28-1, with twelve straight victories.
– The Johnnies have outscored the Tommies 351-173 in their 12-game winning streak.
– The last time the Tommies won in Collegeville was in 1986, winning 56-21.
– Octogenarian John Gagliardi started coaching the Johnnies in 1953, and is in his 58th season as coach. The Tommies record is 14-43 against Gagliardi.
– Glenn Caruso is the eighth different Tommie coach to face Gagliardi.
– St. John’s won the first ever meeting November 28, 1901, 16-6 at Lexington Park. However, football was still a club sport at St. Thomas, not a varsity sport.
– In 1949, the Tommies played the Johnnies in Collegeville in the final game of the season with a 19-game conference win streak for the Tommies and the MIAC championship on the line. The Johnnies rallied to take a six-point lead in the final quarter, but the Tommies drove downfield and scored near the end of regulation to tie the score. The Tommies made what proved to be the winning extra point in a 28-27 Tommie victory.
– In 1985, the Johnnies kicked a game-winning, 42-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to beat the Tommies, 16-15. St. Thomas, with a 15-13 lead, appeared to have the game won late in the fourth quarter when a failed onside-kick attempt by St. John’s gave the Tommies an opportunity to run out the clock and end the game. However, a Tommie receiver ran out of bounds after a catch to stop the clock, and the Johnnies got the ball back with 18 seconds left. On this cold and rainy day, the Johnnies got just close enough to kick the game-winning field goal before time expired.
– In St. Thomas coach Mark Dienhart’s last game in 1986, the Tommies handed the Johnnies their worst defeat since Gagliardi took over in 1952, crushing-the Johnnies 56-20.
– In 1992 a sub-par Tommie team pulled a huge upset over a heavily-favored St. John’s at O’Shaughnessy Stadium. A fumble returned for a touchdown helped St Thomas get back in the game, making the score 12-7. When St. Thomas lined up for a field goal at the end of the first half, the Johnnies called a time out. St. Thomas then decided against a field goal kick and ended up scoring a touchdown with a two-point conversion to take a 15-12 lead. The Johnnies fell short on numerous second-half drives and the game ended when a Tommie defender deflected a pass in the end zone to preserve a 3-point St Thomas win.
– There was a wild game in 1994, as St. John’s edged the Tommies 35-34. In a game where 23 penalties were called, and 774 yards of total offense were piled up between the teams, it was a play in the final minutes that decided the game. Down 35-34, the Tommies were driving for the game-winning score when the Tommies’ quarterback was hit from behind and fumbled the ball (a questionable call, which made the play all the more exciting), with the Johnnies recovering to clinch the win.
Dan Cook can be reached at Cook9156@stthomas.edu.