Football gets Eureka to open NCAA playoffs

Photo by Chico LaBarbera
UST's Matt Christenson leaps for a TD reception in Saturday's victory.
Photo by Chico LaBarbera -- UST's Matt Christenson leaps for a TD reception in Saturday's victory. story/D-III bracket


St. Thomas Football will play host to Upper Midwest Conference champion Eureka (Ill.) in round one of the NCAA playoffs Nov. 18 with a noon kickoff at Palmer Field in O'Shaughnessy Stadium.

The 32-team national bracket was released late Sunday afternoon.

MIAC runner-up St. John's joins the Tommies in the national field, but those teams are on the opposite side of the bracket and wouldn't meet in any the first four rounds.

The Tommies (9-1), who lead Division III in several defensive categories, have an eight-game win streak. They have allowed just two defense touchdowns over the last 20 quarters.

Eureka (8-2) is making the school's first Division III football trip and first postseason football game in 23 seasons. The Red Devils are averaging 45 points a game in their current eight-game winning streak after opening the season with losses to Knox and Northwestern-St. Paul. They topped St. Scholastica 40-34.

Saturday's winner plays Nov. 25 against either unbeaten Berry (Ga.) or Huntingdon (Ala.), now 9-1.


UST Football Notes

  • This is the Tommies' fourth consecutive NCAA playoff appearance and eighth in the last nine seasons;
  • The Tommies are 17-7 in the NCAA playoffs in eight seasons under Coach Glenn Caruso -- 16-2 at home, 1-3 on the road, and 0-2 in Salem, Va.;
  • St. Thomas had just one NCAA playoff appearance in a 25-year span from 1984-2008 but this will mark No. 8 since 2009 under Caruso;
  • St. Thomas has won 33 of its last 34 November games;
  • Twenty-two different Tommies have scored TDs this season, and 26 have scored points;
  • UST has won 18 consecutive games when it has two or less turnovers;
  • UST has won 24 games in a row when it scores defensive points.


MIAC Stats

The Tommies ranked first in these 17 categories in the eight-game MIAC stats for 2017:

  • Total Offense, 528 ypg;
  • Scoring, 57.3 ppg;
  • Passing TDs, 20;
  • Rushing TDs, 36;
  • Passing Yards, 286.1 ypg;
  • Fewest interceptions, 3;
  • First Downs, 25.3;
  • Scoring Defense, 7.8 ppg;
  • Total Defense, 117.8 ypg;
  • Rushing Defense, 10.4 ypg;
  • Sacks, 21;
  • Defensive TDs scored, 3;
  • Tackles for Loss, 92;
  • Third-Down Conversion Allowed, 17%;
  • First Downs Allowed, 55.