Tigers' Second Half Rally Falls Short in NCAA Loss at Thomas More
November 21, 2009
November 21, 2009, Crestview Hills, Ky. — After trailing by as many as 21 points in the first half, DePauw rallied to within three, but 10th-ranked Thomas More's fumble recovery and score with 1:42 left gave the Saints a 49-39 NCAA Division III first round win over the Tigers.
DePauw finished its season at 7-3, while Thomas More improved to 11-0 and advanced to the Division III second round.
Thomas More took a 42-32 lead on Laymon Carter's 1-yard run with 6:08 left which capped a 13-play, 64-yard drive and took 5:38. The Tigers wasted little time in answering as they drove 75 yards in 13 plays with Brayden Dahlstrom catching an 8-yard pass from Spud Dick to make it 42-39 with 3:21 remaining.
The Tigers were unable to recover the ensuing onside kick, but the defense stopped the Saints and forced them to punt. A DePauw illegal block penalty on the punt return gave the Tigers the ball on their own 7-yard line with just 2:08 left.
Dick teamed with Alex Koors for a 12-yard pass play and a first down. Two plays later, Dick completed a pass to Nathan Evans, but Thomas More's Wade Begley forced a fumble as Evans was trying to get out-of-bounds. Zach Autenreib scooped up the ball at the DePauw 20 and ran it down the sideline all the way for the score.
DePauw did drive to the Thomas More 13 on its final drive but Dick was intercepted by Brandon Kohrs at the Saints 5.
"Our guys battled back today," interim head coach Robby Long said. "I knew they would and I'm proud of them."
Thomas More started the game quickly as Kendall Owens scored on a 67-yard pass from Trevor Stellman on the Saints' fifth play of the game. They made it 14-0 on Cordario Collier's 1-yard run with 7:00 left in the first.
Later in the first, DePauw punter Adam Hill landed a boot at the Thomas More 2 and the defense pushed the Saints back to the 1. Following a Thomas More punt and the DePauw return, the Tigers took over on the Saints' 30. Five plays later Dick teamed with Bryan Mulligan for a 7-yard score which cut the Thomas More lead to 14-7 with 13:46 left in the first half.
DePauw's defense came up big again with a three-and-out, but on DePauw's second play of its next series, Nick Gramke intercepted Dick at the DePauw 41. Four plays later, Stellman ran it in from 12 yards to make it 21-7 with 10:52 remaining in the half.
On the Tigers' first play following the kickoff, Autenreib intercepted Dick at the DePauw 30 and returned it for a touchdown which pushed the margin to 28-7.
DePauw then embarked on a 15-play, 56-yard drive which consumed 7:15 and culminated in Jordan Havercamp's 29-yard field goal to make it 28-10.
Early in the second half, Thomas Wrona picked off Stellman at the Saints' 30 and returned it to the 12. Four plays later, Derrick Karazsia plunged in from the 1 to close the gap to 28-17.
On the kickoff, Scott Hunt forced Mercier Doucette to fumble the return and DePauw's Joshua Sturek recovered at the Thomas More 26. The Tigers picked up a pair of first downs and were faced with second-and-goal from the 3 when the Saints were called for pass interference. Three plays later Dick tossed a 3-yard scoring pass to Koors which made it 28-24 with 4:58 left in the third.
The Saints, however, responded with Stellman's 68-yard pass to Chris Farley which extended the lead to 35-24 with 1:55 remaining in the third. DePauw came right back as Dick connected with Evans for a 4-yard score with 11:46 left.
After three straight penalty calls against the Saints on the two-point conversion attempt, Dick found Koors for the score which closed Thomas More's lead to 35-32 with 1:46 left in the third.
The Saints followed that up with Carter's score on a drive which included a fourth-and-five conversion from the Tigers' 25.
"We were able to slow their rush in the second half," Dick said of the difference in the offense's second half performance.
"In the first half we struggled quite a bit offensively mainly because every time I went back to throw the ball I had someone in my face."
DePauw totaled 29 first downs to the Saints' 16 and the Tigers outgained Thomas More, 373-350.
Dick completed 35 of a career-high 59 pass attempts for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Koors caught nine for 71 yards, while Dahlstrom and Mulligan each hauled in eight for 92 and 74 yards, respectively. DePauw totaled just 55 rushing yards in 32 attempts against the second-ranked run defense in the nation.
Stellman rushed for 78 yards in 16 tries, while Collier had 68 yards in 14 attempts.
Stellman completed just 6-of-16 passes but for 196 yards including two which totaled 135 yards. Farley had two catches for 73 yards, while Owens had one for 67.
Defensively, Wrona paced the Tigers with eight tackles, while Hunt added seven including two for losses. Brad Steinmetz paced Thomas More with 13 tackles, while Autenreib, Kohrs and Gramke each had 11. Justin Smith had four tackles for loss including the game's only sack.
Mulligan's eight catches lifted his career total to a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference record 217 which topped the mark of 213 by Trinity's Jason Hunt (1999-2002).
Dick finished his career with 9,312 passing yards which surpassed the conference record of 9,295 established by Millsaps' Juan Joseph (2005-08).