St. Thomas running backs dominate playoff game with Tartan

Linda Baumeister/Review

Cadets advance to Section 5AAAAA championship

Wally Wakefield
Review staff

St. Thomas 35 - Tartan 14
Odds of 3-to-1 are never good when they’re not in your favor.

Such was the case for the Tartan Titans Saturday, Oct. 26, when the St. Thomas Academy Cadets came to Oakdale for a football confrontation in Section 5AAAAA.

St. Thomas utilized three running backs against the Titans’ ace Keenen Bellaphant and came out on top of a 35-14 win.

The St. Thomas triumph ended Tartan’s season with a record of 6-3 and sent the Cadets (7-2) into a section championship game against Henry Sibley (5-3).

The Cadets offset Bellaphant’s 168-yards rushing total and five turnovers with running backs Carter Vanasek, Joe Herbeck and Mario Bognanno who consistently had the Tartan defensive players back on their heels.

Bellaphant carried 23 times for an average of 7.3 per carry.

The St. Thomas trio carried the ball 42 times for 330 yards, four touchdowns and an average of 7.5 yards per carry. Of the 330 yards, Vanasek went 12/84-7.0; Herbeck 15/108-7.2, and Bognanno 12/112-9.3.

The St. Thomas defense also gained two Tartan turnovers.

The opening touchdown came when Jackson Finn pulled down a 20-yard pass from quarterback Ben Fiers. Mac Schmidt booted the PAT for a 7-0 St. Thomas lead.

The Titans countered in the second quarter when Bellaphant bounded into pay dirt from 12 yards out. Erik Eastwood put the PAT through the uprights and the score was level at 7-7.

St. Thomas changed that when Vanasek scored from 6 yards out. Schmidt’s boot was good and the Cadets were on top to stay at 14-7.

Also in the second quarter, Herbeck broke free and went on a 31-yard jaunt for six points. Schmidt’s kick was good, and the Cadets led 21-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter, St. Thomas continued its scoring splurge. Bognanno pulled down a pass from Fiers and turned it into a 41-yard pass/run for a TD.

Again Schmidt’s PAT was good to push the count to a St. Thomas 28-7 advantage.

Then the Cadets’ Herbeck finished off a drive with a 1-yard plunge for a score. Schmidt booted his fifth PAT and St. Thomas led 35-7.

The final score came when Tartan quarterback connected with senior wide receiver Triston Richert on a 31-yard touchdown toss. Eastwood booted the final point in the St. Thomas victory and the Cadets moved on to the Section 5, Class AAAAA championship game.

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