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ISSUE 118 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/8/2004

Too little, too late as Tommies top Oles

By Joel Stjernholm
Sports Editor

Friday, October 8, 2004

Despite a valiant come-from-behind effort, the St. Olaf football team fell to St. Thomas 24-21 before an estimated crowd of 3,000 at OShaugnessy Stadium in St. Paul last Saturday.

St. Thomas jumped out to an early lead, scoring 17 points in the first half while the Oles managed just a touchdown.

St. Olaf rallied back in the second half, scoring 14 points while holding St. Thomas to just one score, but the effort was too little, too late. St. Thomas withstood the Ole onslaught to win the contest and drop the Oles record to 2-2.

We knew it would be a big game for us, quarterback Jason Wilsey 06 said. We match up pretty evenly with St. Thomas. We really wanted to have that game.

The stingy Ole defense let up only 10 points in the game, but their efforts were undercut by two touchdowns scored on interception returns by St. Thomas.

Ironically, the St. Thomas defense outscored their offense, giving the Tommies the edge they needed to win.

St. Olaf was led defensively by captain Matt Bucka 05, who came down with his first interception of the season on Saturday. 2003 All-MIAC linebacker John Davis 06 also played well, accruing six tackles.

Despite costly turnovers, Wilseys offense was productive, driving 309 yards on 69 plays, gaining 21 more total yards than St. Thomas.

Wilsey completed 16 passes on 33 attempts for 197 yards through the air for the day.

Tailbacks Marc Olson 07 and Bobby Andrade 07 led the Ole rushing effort with 72 and 43 yards, respectively. Nick Rost 07 was St. Olafs leading receiver, gaining 62 yards on four passes, followed by Andrade with 53 receiving yards and Horace Gant 08 with 41 yards.

St. Olaf has been plagued by inconsistent play for the entire season. Often, the team will struggle in the first half, only to regain composure at half time and play outstanding football in the second half.

This is evidenced by fact that the seven third-quarter points put up by the Tommies are the only second-half points allowed by the Ole defense in any of their four games this season.

However, St. Olafs defense has allowed opponents 97 first-half points, an average of over 24 points per game. Such large deficits are often difficult to overcome offensively.

Consistency is definitely our focus for practice this week, Wilsey said. We can play with anyone, but we need to avoid costly let-ups. We do a good job of focusing at halftime and coming out hard in the second half, but we need to play the complete game.

St. Olafs consistency issues likely stem from the teams relative youth. Wilsey is playing his first year as starting quarterback; top tailbacks Olson and Andrade are sophomores, and the teams leading receivers, Rost and Gant, are a sophomore and first year, respectively.

The young team is confident in head coach Chris Meidts system, and as they become acclimated to collegiate competition, they will emerge as a fearsome MIAC contender.

We run a complicated defensive scheme, and coach Meidt is an offensive genius, Wilsey said. He has been putting our system together for a decade.

After three games on the road, the Oles are looking forward to their first game at Manitou Field since the season opener against Luther.

Opposing St. Olaf Saturday at 1 p.m. will be their cross-river rivals from Carleton. The meeting marks the second annual Cereal Bowl as well as homecoming.

Last year, the Oles thrashed the Knights to retain the coveted Goat Trophy.

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