Post-Game Press Conference
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Fritz Waldvogel’s 10-yard touchdown catch from Dakota Tracy in double overtime pushed No. 4 St. Thomas past eight-ranked Linfield 24-17 Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs at chilly O’Shaugnessy Stadium.
The unbeaten Tommies (12-0) overcame five turnovers to avenge a 2009 playoff loss to the Wildcats. St. Thomas, champions of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, advance to next week’s West Region final where they will host Bethel (Minn.), a 15-10 winner over Wheaton (Ill.). That game will kickoff Saturday, Dec. 4, at noon local time.
Linfield, champion of the Northwest Conference, finished its season at 9-2. The Wildcats never led in the game but twice came back to tie the contest, including in the final minute of regulation.
Linfield gained just 55 yards in the first half while St. Thomas had 171, yet the teams went into the lockerroom tied at 10.
The Tommies took a 7-0 lead on Colin Tobin’s 1-yard run with 5:29 left in the first quarter. The touchdown capped an 11-play, 56-yard drive on the game's opening possession. While Linfield’s offense misfiring early on, St. Thomas extended its lead with a 32-yard field goal by Tim Albright with 11:40 to play in the second quarter.
A pair of turnovers kept Linfield in the game. Cornerback Christian Hanna picked off St. Thomas quarterback Dakota Tracy and returned the ball 50 yards to the Tommies 22-yard line. Three plays later, Aaron Boehme connected with Chris Slezak in the corner of the end zone. The extra point by Jordan Walker trimmed the margin to 10-7 with 3:28 to play in the half.
Drew Fisher intercepted Tracy once more on the ensuing drive and a facemask penalty on the return spotted the ball at the Tommies 34. Linfield moved to the 9, but the St. Thomas defense tightened, forcing Linfield to call on Walker for a game-tying 27-yard field goal with 25 ticks left on the clock.
Linfield got the ball back to begin the third quarter and Boehme marched the Wildcats to the UST 13. On fourth-and-7, Walker’s try from 30 yards away was wide left.
After a scoreless third quarter, St. Thomas went back in front on Tobin’s 12-yard scamper to cap an 80-yard drive.
The Wildcats tied the game once more, this time on a 7-yard TD catch from Boehme to Buddy Saxon with 17 seconds left in the game. Saxon caught four passes on the drive that began at the Linfield 36.
In the first overtime, the Wildcats got the ball first. A penalty spotted the ball at the 30, and after three straight incomplete passes, Walker was attempted a 47-yard field goal on fourth down that fell short of the crossbar.
Tobin fumbled on the Tommies’ first offensive play of overtime, setting the stage for the second overtime period. On third-and-7 from the 10, Tracy spotted Waldvogel in the back of the end zone for the eventual game-winning score.
Needing a touchdown and successful extra point to tie, Linfield maneuvered to the 12 but Taylor Avritt fumbled and Willy Baregi recovered at the 5, touching off a wild celebration.
Boehme threw for 226 yards in his final game in a Linfield uniform, completing 24-of-46 attempts. Saxon and Deidre Wiersma each caught eight passes for the Wildcats.
Tracy completed 12-of-27 passes for 160 yards. He was sacked twice and threw four interceptions, including three in the first half. Waldvogel caught seven balls for 83 yards.
The Wildcats held the Tommies to 316 total yards, including 145 in the second half and overtime. Linfield produced a season-low 282 yards, 227 of which came after intermission.
Wildcats monsterback Kalae Parish recorded nine tackles, while Hanna had seven stops. Eric Hedin finished with 5½ tackles, including his school-record 22nd sack of the season.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Temperature at kickoff was 25 degrees with only light wind. . . Saturday’s attendance was estimated at 1,500. . . Wildcats starting tailback Simon Lamson sat out majority of the game with a sprained ankle suffered in the first quarter. . . Linfield is now 13-6 all-time in NCAA playoff games. . . the teams combined for 12 penalties in the first half . . . the Wildcats return to Oregon Saturday night arriving in McMinnville around 9 p.m.
First-half interception sparks 'Cats
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128