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Football cruises, secures NCAA playoff bid

Photo by Mike Ekern
Photo by Mike Ekern

Josh Parks rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns and Jacques Perra threw for 237 yards and two scores as No. 4-ranked St. Thomas secured an NCAA playoff berth with Saturday's 58-7 home MIAC football defeat of Gustavus.

St. Thomas (8-1 overall, 7-0 MIAC) clnched at least a tie for the MIAC title -- its sixth championship in the last eight seasons. It can claim the solo championship with a win next Saturday at St. Olaf.

The Toms, who had no turnovers, claimed the program's eighth NCAA playoff invite in nine seasons as they hold head-to-head tie-breakers over closest conference pursuers St. John's and Concordia for the league's automatic bid.

The St. Thomas defense allowed one net yard on 51 plays, including just three yards passing on two completions. They had seven sacks among 16 tackles for loss, allowed just five first downs, and forced 11 punts. Gustavus rushed 39 times for minus-two net yards. The Gusties were 0-of-14 on third-down tries before converting their last opportunity in the final 2:00.

UST junior linebacker Blake Weber had a one-yard interception return for a touchdown, part of a 20-0 run over 5:00 late in the second quarter that put the Toms ahead 34-7 at halftime. Dylan Andrew had two sacks among his 4.5 tackles for loss.

The Tommies have outscored seven conference foes 361-62, including a 200-20 margin over the last three games. Their defense has allowed just eight touchdowns, 76 net rushing yards and 50 first downs in seven conference games.