ST. PAUL, Minn. — A beat-up Coe College football team got a beat-down to end its NCAA Division III playoff run.
The University of St. Thomas ran over the Kohawks Saturday, 34-7, in a D-III quarterfinal at O’Shaughnessy Stadium. The Tommies rushed for 303 yards to Coe’s 2, and the total yardage was 499-225.
This was an inopportune time to give a freshman quarterback his first college start, but Coe Coach Steve Staker had limited options after sophomore starter Brad Boyle separated his shoulder the previous Saturday in the Kohawks’ first-round playoff triumph at St. John’s.
Staker went with freshman Jared McNutt at QB. McNutt had thrown three passes all season entering the game. He was introduced to being a college starter by facing a defense that seldom gave the kid a break.
“They were real good defensively,” McNutt said. “They disguised coverages real well. They mixed it up well and ran a lot of blitzes to keep me moving out of the pocket all day.”
St. Thomas sacked McNutt eight times and changed the game after the first of their three interceptions.
Michael Rozun’s 2-yard touchdown run capped a 74-yard possession to pull the Kohawks within 10-7 with 5:06 left in the first half. McNutt was particularly good on the drive, completing 4 of 5 passes for 59 yards.
But the Tommies answered with a 63-yard scoring drive to make it 17-7 with 1:46 left.
McNutt was intercepted by St. Thomas linebacker Willy Baregi on the third play of Coe’s subsequent drive. Boyle had been picked off just once in Coe’s first 11 games, 10 of them wins.
On the next play, junior running back Ben Wartman busted through the line and tore away for a 46-yard touchdown run. It was 24-7 at halftime and no Coe rally followed.
Wartman rushed 34 times for 236 yards for the 11-1 Tommies, who advanced to the national semifinals for the first time.
“We’ll learn from this,” Staker said. “We’ll be a better football team next year, you bet.”