Monday
Oct272014

Penz, J.J. and Chad...

Three Oles were recognized by the MIAC for their efforts against Augsburg Saturday.

Running back J.J. Strnad continued his three-game string of power running, getting some accolades for his 134 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries against the Auggies.

Quarterback Nate Penz had a little love tossed his way for going 15 of 28 passing for 149 yards and a TD toss to Joel Reinhardt.

And Chad Wagner, a senior defensive end, turned in a beast-like performance with 6 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack of Augsburg QB Ayrton Scott that was a thing of beauty.

Good work fellas.

 

Sunday
Oct262014

Not quite there.... yet.

After the elation of the Carleton win, a 38-20 loss to Augsburg College at Manitou Field was a bummer. As good as that win felt, this loss just left many of us with a down feeling. But that, too, can be a mark of progress.

After falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter, St. Olaf raced back to make a game of it with 13 points scored in the second quarter. J.J. Strnad scored two touchdowns on 134 yards rushing and Joel Reinhardt had a sweet touchdown catch in the end zone with two Auggies covering.

But it could have been so much more. And, I guess, that is the progress.

After Augsburg scored on its opening drive, the Oles went right down the field and scored on a short pass to Joel from QB Nate Penz. But the touchdown -- and a 7-7 tie -- was called back because of illegal formation. The Oles would not score, after the Augsburg defense stiffened. Then the Auggies scored twice more in quick succession after an interception, a flea flicker and a long run.

It was a huge swing in momentum. But the Oles would have other chances. Yet, each time they made a defensive stand or a big offensive play, they would follow up with a mistake -- missed tackles, dropped balls, penalties. As Head Coach Craig Stern told the team after the game: They had chances, but they made too many mistakes. And the Oles are not talented enough yet to overcome too many mistakes.

Not yet.

But in these past three games -- Gustavus, Carleton and Augsburg -- the conversation has shifted. The Oles now have had a shot to win all three. In fact, they perhaps should have. It is one thing, Coach Stern said, if a team just is better than you and beats you physically. That happened earlier this year against nationally ranked opponents. But the Oles are through that Murderers' Row and are now playing teams that, if the Oles play well and limit their mistakes, they have a chance to beat. It almost happened against the Gusties. It happened against the Knights and, perhaps, it should have happened -- or at least come closer to almost happening -- against Augsburg.

Now, what the Oles need to do is find that instinct, that focus, that discipline to pull out the victory, to play the flawless game. Or the nearly flawless.

The good part? Their play has raised expectations -- for their fans, their coaches and themselves. This team has played these past three opponents tougher than the Oles did last year. Now, can they clear the hump? Hamline is next, then a bye week, then St. John's.

These last two games will have much to say about the level of optimism that will follow this team into the off-season. These last two games will have something to do with how these seniors feel about the close of their St. Olaf football careers.

These last two games will tell us much about how near, or far, the Oles still have to go. The cool thing? The past three games have made most of us believe there is more to these boys than their record shows. These last two games should remove any doubt.

 

 

Monday
Oct202014

THE GOAT CAME HOME
The team won the Cereal Bowl and reclaimed the Goat from the team across the river!  It was a nail biting finish but oh so wonderful!
 

 

NEXT UP - AUGSBURG SEPT 25

Join us at the Touchdown Tent before the game.  Food will be served from 11-12:30. Join us to enjoy burgers, dogs and chili before the game!
Pray for our Ole's as they look to continue their winning streak!

 

Monday
Oct202014

Piling up tackles... and leading the league.

St. Olaf sophomore safety Coleman Foley now leads the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in total tackles, with 60, in 7 games. In addition, Coleman is third in the league in tackles per game, at 8.6. He is also second in the league in tackles for loss, with 6.5.

The Edina High School graduate is really coming on for the Ole defense. He had an eye-popping 15 total tackles and a sack in Saturday's 17-13 win at Carleton and has been a force for the Oles on the edge. Coleman now has 3 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.

Colin Brown, a senior defensive end from Florida, leads the MIAC in tackles for loss with 9. Colin is having an impact year for the Ole defense and is proviing tough to block in the trenches.

St. Olaf's other strong safety -- they start 2 in their 3-3-5 defense -- also is among the league leaders in tackles. Seamus Walsh has 45 tackles, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and 3.5 tackles for loss. The total tackles put Seamus in 12th place in the MIAC.

On offense, St. Olaf quarterback Nate Penz, a junior from Rochester Mayo, is fifth in the MIAC in passing yards at 1,303. He is sixth in the league in passing yards per game, with 186.1. Nate, a co-captain, has thrown 7 touchdown passes and tossed 2 on Saturday in the win over Carleton.

Receiver Joel Reinhardt, a senior from Eagan and Minnehaha Academy, is third in the league in total receptions with 45 catches in 7 games. Joel, another co-captain, also has 3 touchdown receptions and 452 receiving yards. Alex Nelson, another Oles senior receiver, is sixth in the league with 31 receptions for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Running back J.J. Strnad, who scored the winning touchdown against Carleton on a 9-yard pass from Penz, has 28 receptions -- good for ninth place in the MIAC. The big junior from California has 1 touchdown catch and 224 receiving yards, to go along with 3 rushing touchdowns and 344 yards rushing.

Saturday
Oct182014

Reward

So, that's what it feels like.

That's how it feels when a defense makes goal line stands and an offense drives 75 yards in 4 minutes and a thundering running back carries tacklers on his back, a safety compiles 15 tackles and a sack, defensive backs shut down a passing game and receivers grab crucial passes to keep drives alive.

Pretty doggone nice.

On Saturday, the Oles had heroes galore in winning their first game of the year, reclaiming the Goat, capturing the Cereal Bowl and injecting euphoria into Coach Craig Stern's post-game remarks for the first time in 16 games. Where to start?

What about J.J. Strnad? With more than 70 yards rushing and the game-winning touchdown catch with only a minute to play, J.J. for the second week in a row played like a man who refused to be stopped, ran like a bull moose among little forest creatures. For the second week in a row, the Oles' ground game gave their offense viable options to keep drives alive and burn up clock.

What about Coleman Foley? The sophomore safety had an eye-popping 15 tackles and a sack, spearheading an Oles defense that collected 5 sacks on the day and harassed Carleton into just 122 yards passing.

What about the entire Ole defense, with a couple of goal line stands and a late stand to hold Carleton to only a field goal and a 13-10 lead, giving the Oles' offense the ball with 5 minutes remaining and a chance to win?

What about that Ole offense? Led by quarterback Nate Penz, who passed for 260 yards and two touchdowns and repeatedly ran for crucial yardage when the Knights managed to cover up everyone else, St. Olaf for the second week in a row turned in an impressive offensive performance.

What about Brice Peterson, the junior safety who forced a Carleton fumble at the goal line to prevent a score? Or John Bennett, the nose guard who totalled 7 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks? He sacked the Carleton quarterback to end their hopes for a win. Or David Jean, the junior linebacker, with several tackles and a sack? Or Troy Peterson, the freshman receiver, who had 6 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown? Or Joel Reinhardt, who again proved to have hands as sticky as flypaper as he pulled in 5 passes for 92 yards?

What about this team, that has played the best football of its season -- maybe of the last two seasons -- in the past two games, proving again that these young men do not quit on each other, their coaches or their school?

And what about these coaches, who have held this team together, given them the schemes and the motivation to hamper their last two opponents and begin to realize their until-now untapped potential?

The truth is, I could name every single player on this team today. Every coach. Every manager and trainer and helper. They all played a role, they all fulfilled their assignment, whether it showed up in the statistics or the scoring summary or not. They battled, again. They fought, again. They picked each other up, again.

Only this time, this week, this game, they earned the reward of a win. A huge, tear-inducing, laughter-sparking, song-singing, goat-carrying, bowl-toting, brotherhood-reinforcing WIN.

What a great day.