Video by Cole Trace
Ben Wartman rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns to help St. Thomas roll to a 34-7 win over Coe College Saturday in O’Shaughnessy Stadium in the second round of the NCAA playoffs.
“I love running behind [the offensive line] and my fullback,” Wartman said. “The first quarter we were just kind of figuring out what we were doing – coach Caruso with his play calls and that kind of stuff – and it just propelled from there.”
The win is St. Thomas football’s first second round win in history and only the second time the program has reached the second round.
After a four-game hiatus, Greg Morse started the game under center for the Tommies and had a great day with three total touchdowns – one on the ground and two through the air to Tony Margarit and Fritz Waldvogel. The sophomore completed 11 of 16 passes for 196 yards and no interceptions.
“It’s always easy when you can go into a game and just hand the ball off for a majority of the game,” Morse said.
Morse’s job at quarterback was made considerably easier by Waldvogel, who was named the MIAC’s most valuable player earlier in the week and finished the day with six catches for 123 yards.
“It makes my job a lot easier when I can just throw it in [Waldvogel’s] vicinity and he’ll come down with it,” Morse said. “He’s an amazing player. There’s not much more you can say about him.”
The Tommie defense came up huge again for the second time in two playoff games. This time the defense held Kohawk offense to just 225 yards and an abysmal two yards rushing. Safety Brady Ervin had two interceptions and one pick one set up Wartman’s 44-yard touchdown run at the end of the first half.
Though the game wouldn’t be over for another two quarters, the turning point proved to be Ervin’s interception and Wartman’s run for six with just 36 seconds remaining the half.
“We had just scored two minutes before that,” Coach Glenn Caruso said. “We felt good enough in how our defense was playing that if we were able to come up with back-to-back scores at some point in the game, we [would feel] very comfortable with the game.”
Wartman’s run was the product of careful play calling and setting up Coe’s defense.
“Toward the end [of the first half] they thought we were going to pass a little bit and we had a little play off that,” Wartman said. “We just kind of tried that and it worked our way. It was great. We had our lineman blocking down field and I finally could beat one guy – something I haven’t done all year.”
In addition to Ervin’s two interceptions, the rest of St. Thomas’ defenders came up big, too, recording eight sacks and another pick.
Next week, St. Thomas will travel to McMinnville, Ore., to battle Linfield College (12-0). Linfield beat the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor 53-21 this Saturday in order to advance. The game will start at 2 p.m. CST.
Click to see extended interviews from Caruso, Waldvogel and Wartman from the press conference after Saturday’s win over Coe.
Matt Wolfgram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org