It was a fun and festive setting, and the Purple had a fast start on both sides of the ball. But No. 11-ranked Tommie Football fell short over four quarters against No. 4-ranked and unbeaten St. John's.
The Tommies lost 38-20 Saturday in the MIAC contest before more than 19,500 fans in the sunshine at St. Paul's Allianz Field.
The sold-out stadium showcased the 89th meeting of the St. Thomas-St. John's football rivalry, and produced the second largest crowd ever to attend a Division III football game, behind only the 2017 Tommie-Johnnie clash at Target Field.
St. Thomas (4-2 overall, 3-1 MIAC) broke to a 14-0 lead in the first 11:37 on the clock, and still led 14-13 at halftime.
But the Purple couldn't slow SJU senior All-America quarterback Jackson Erdmann and his offense. Erdmann completed 32-of-47 passes with one interception for 451 yards and three TDs.
St. John's finished with 558 yards on 75 plays with 30 first downs, while the Toms had 388 yards on 59 plays and 16 first downs.
The Johnnies (6-0 overall, 5-0 MIAC) took control of the league championship race as it defeated its second MIAC foe in eight days -- both top-11 ranked. SJU beat No. 6-ranked Bethel at home 19-0 one week earlier.
St. Thomas senior halfback Josh Parks had touchdown runs of 32 and 67 yards -- his 47th and 48th touchdowns as a Tommie -- to move closer to surpassing the school career TD mark of 50. His 147 rushing yards on 13 carries on Saturday produced his 18th career 100-yard rushing game. In the 40-20 road loss at St. John's in 2018, Parks raced to a career-high 256 yards and three TDs. In the last four seasons in four games against St. John's, Parks scored seven touchdowns and collected 541 rushing yards on 59 carries (9.2 ypr).
Parks' 67-yard scoring run in the third quarter put the Toms back ahead 20-19, but they were unable to score on their final four drives of the contest. Trailing 25-20 with under 12:00 to play, UST had a fourth-and-1 opportunity at the Johnnie seven-yard line. But a rushing play came up inches short, and SJU countered with a 12-play, 93-yard touchdown drive to push the lead to 31-20 and help pull away.
But the Johnnies only allowed one sack and had one punt thereafter over the final 50:11 on the clock, with no other turnovers.
In his first Tommie-Johnnie game as a starter, St. Thomas junior QB Tommy Dolan completed 14-of-21 passes for 173 yards and a six-yard scoring strike to Grant Slavik. Dolan's long pass in the final 40 seconds was intercepted, the only turnover of the day for St. Thomas.
Herriges had 2.5 tackles for loss among eight tackles, and Parker Hlavacek had a pass breakup and eight tackles.
St. Thomas plays at St. Olaf and at Carleton the next two weeks. It then finishes the regular season at home in November against Gustavus and Bethel. Coach Glenn Caruso's Toms need to win all four games to have any chance to stay in consideration for the NCAA playoffs and to continue a streak of eight-win seasons.