MINNEAPOLIS – The third time is a charm for the St. Scholastica football team defeating MacMurray College 48-18 on Saturday in its third attempt at UMAC Dome Day on Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Things got off to a great start for the Saints defensively as MacMurray turned the ball over twice on its first four offensive plays. After the Saints turned the ball over deep in Highlander territory on their opening possession, JP Leary (South St. Paul, Minn./South St. Paul HS) intercepted a pass on MacMurray’s second play from scrimmage and took it to the house 18 yards to give CSS a 7-0 lead.
The Highlanders then fumbled the ball on their second play of the next possession and Chas Lemon (Minneapolis, Minn./DeLaSalle HS) scooped it up and ran it into the end zone to make it 14-0, less than four minutes into the game. That marked the first time in program history the Saints have had two defensive scores in one game.
MacMurray got on the board on its next possession when Justin McAfee connected with Da’Marcus Austi for a 22-yard touchdown reception. The extra point was blocked by Justin Trautmiller (Somerset, Wis./Somerset HS) as the score was 14-6.
The Highlanders made it 14-12 two drives later when Austi caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with two minutes to go in the first quarter. MacMurray’s two-point attempt failed.
In the second quarter, Alex Thiry (Cambridge, Minn./Braham HS (Minn.-Duluth)) hooked with Jonny Bennett (Blackduck, Minn./Blackduck HS) for a 44-yard reception on 3rd-and-8. St. Scholastica scored on the next play as Thiry took it himself and ran it in from 19 yards to make it 21-12. The Saints had another big pass play take the ball inside the MacMurray 10-yard-line on their next possession, but it was called back for holding.
Right before halftime, the Highlanders drove the ball inside the Saints’ 10-yard-line, but were stopped on a fourth down as the score at the half was 21-12 CSS.
The Saints have been outstanding second half team this season and they showed that again tonight, outscoring the Highlanders 27-6 in the half.
After a Zack Dubanoski (New Prague, Minn./New Prague HS) interception, Taylor McGinnis (Eau Claire, Wis./Eau Claire Memorial HS) made his first collegiate field goal from 28 yards to make it 24-12. After another CSS interception, this time by Scott Greening (Antigo, Wis./Antigo HS), Thiry hit Jonny Bennett for a 31-yard touchdown to make it 31-12.
Dubanoski then forced a fumble on the Highlanders next possession, which was recovered by Christopher Doran (Andover, Minn./Andover HS), and that led to Bennett catching an 8-yard touchdown pass as the score was 38-12 at the end of the third quarter.
On the first drive of the fourth quarter, it was a first for the Saints when Cole Karsky (Sartell, Minn./Sartell HS) made the second field goal of the game for CSS from 26 yards to make it 41-12. Following a Jordan Hanson (Albert Lea, Minn./Albert Lea HS (Ridgewater CC)) sack, which ended the Highlanders next possession, the Saints added their last score on Alex Heiss’ first collegiate touchdown on an 8-yard rush. The Highlanders added one touchdown late to make the final 48-18.
The Saints out-gained the Highlanders 355-256 in the game. CSS was plus-four in the turnover margin, which should help them climb up the NCAA rankings.
Alex Thiry was 16-of-26 for 243 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with one rushing touchdown. Matthew Johnson led the ground attack with 50 yards on 12 carries. Jonny Bennett had five receptions for a career-high 112 yards and two scores. Bennett finished with 170 all-purpose yards for the game.
Sean Graskey (Superior, Wis./Superior HS) led the defense with 13 tackles. JP Leary had nine tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, an interception for a touchdown and a pass breakup.
The Saints will back at home next Saturday for their home finale against the Northwestern College Eagles. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Malosky Stadium.
Courtesy: CSS Athletics