After Northwestern-St. Paul missed a chance to take the lead on its first drive Saturday, it was all St. Thomas.
The No. 3 Tommies (11-0) scored four touchdowns before halftime en route to a 43-0 victory over the visiting Eagles in the first round of the Division III football playoffs.
The Eagles’ opening drive stalled deep in St. Thomas territory and ended with a missed field goal try. St. Thomas answered with an 85-yard drive capped by Tucker Trettel’s 1-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion.
Later in the first quarter, the Tommies recovered a Northwestern fumble on the St. Thomas 41. Quarterback Alex Fenske connected with Joe Reed on a 25-yard scoring pass, making it 15-0 after the extra point. Jeremy Molina added two short rushing touchdowns in the second quarter as St. Thomas built a 30-0 lead at halftime.
St. Thomas’ defense had four takeaways and allowed the Eagles (9-2) just 162 net yards. Dylan Andrew returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown, and Michael Alada tied a school single-season record with his 10th interception.
Fenske completed 13 of 19 passes for 206 yards for the Tommies, and Stephen Wagner rushed for 98 yards.
With the victory, the Tommies improved to 12-0 at home in the postseason under coach Glenn Caruso. It was the Tommies’ first postseason shutout in program history.
St. Thomas will play No. 16-ranked Coe (11-0) next Saturday, likely at home.