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ISSUE 120 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/13/2006

Handled at Homecoming

By Matthew Stortz
Staff Writer

Friday, October 13, 2006

The St. Olaf football team suffered its first loss of the 2006 season Saturday against St. John’s University, falling 37-21. With the loss, the Oles sit at 5-1 overall and are 3-1 in conference play.

The Johnnies capitalized on Ole mistakes early in the game, jumping out to a 13-0 lead before the St. Olaf retaliated with a touchdown late in the first quarter. However, a stingy Johnnie defense held the Oles scoreless through the second and third quarters while the Johnnies garnered 24 points on offense. The Oles added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it proved to be too little, too late.

While the Johnnies certainly played a good game, the Oles did much to hurt themselves in Saturday’s contest. The Oles allowed St. John’s to convert several long-yardage situations on second and third downs. St. Olaf incurred several penalties, getting flagged eight times for 67 yards, including one costly off-sides penalty that cost the Oles an interception and touchdown.

In the second half, the Oles twice entered the red zone without earning points, once due to a fumble and once when the Johnnies blocked a field goal attempt. Also, the Oles allowed the Johnnies to begin several possessions in good field position, making it easier for the Johnny offense to drive and score.

While such mistakes are frustrating, Ole fans can take solace in the fact that such miscues are easily corrected and uncharacteristic of a fundamentally sound St. Olaf squad.

Additionally, the Oles can identify several positive aspects of Saturday’s game. The Oles battled back valiantly in the second half, refusing to quit despite the lopsided score, and outscoring the Johnnies 14-7 in the third and fourth quarters.

“I’m proud of you guys,” said head coach Chris Meidt to his players after the game. “You guys didn’t look at the scoreboard and feel sorry for yourselves. You battled, you battled, you battled.”

In addition to strong team play in the secondhalf, several Oles put forth strong individual performances. St. Olaf’s offensive line kept Johnnie rushers at bay, allowing no sacks. Cornerback Jeremy Lund ’07 led the team with seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and three passes defended. Chris Feehan ’07 notched 6.5 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. Team captain Peter St. Lawrence ’07 garnered five tackles and an interception.

Quarterback Matt Penz ’08 completed 29 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns in his first start against the Johnnies. Penz has played well all season; with 1,657 yards, 14 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 154.0, Penz is ranked among the top 25 quarterbacks in Division III football.

Despite the loss, the Oles remain in the thick of the playoff hunt. The MIAC is likely to send two teams to the Division III playoffs, and with just one conference loss the team’s postseason hopes are not yet dashed. St. Olaf is tied for second place in the MIAC with Bethel and St. Thomas, each of whom also has one loss so far.

With games against Concordia and Bethel in the upcoming weeks, the Oles still have the opportunity to prove that they deserve an elusive eleventh game.

The Oles take on the Cobbers in Moorhead this Saturday. Concordia, which began the year ranked nationally, is just 2-2 in the MIAC this season and 2-3 overall.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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