SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Augustana held Concordia-St. Paul to 44 passing yards and won its sixth straight game over the Golden Bears with a 24-7 victory on Saturday afternoon in Sioux Falls. The Vikings improved to 4-5 on the season, including 2-3 in the South Division while the Golden Bears fall to 4-5, 1-4 in the South Division.
Augustana is now 4-1 in home games this season after allowing its lowest amount of passing yards in a game since holding Upper Iowa to 43 on Nov. 6, 2010. Today was the first time Augustana held an opponent to less than 100 passing yards.
Tanner Foth had a big day for Augustana finishing with a career-high seven tackles and two sacks. Ben Skelly picked off his first career pass and returned it for his first career touchdown.
Augustana finished the game with 270 yards of total offense, with 152 yards on the ground and 118 through the air. Dajon Newell led Augustana on the ground with 62 yards on 14 attempts. Trey Heid ran eight times for 58 yards, including a career-high 44-yard touchdown run. Heid has rushed for a team-high five touchdowns this season.
CJ Ham finished the game with 34 yards rushing on 12 carries, including his first rushing touchdown of the season. Matt Gerry led the receivers for Augustana with 47 yards on three catches.
Grant Gebhardt had a big day returning the football, bring back five punts for 102 yards, including a 39-yard return. He also returned one kickoff for 47 yards.
Ronald Zollicoffer led CU's rushing attack with 83 yards on 11 carries while Tre Spears went for 81 yards on 22 carries.
Augustana forced a three-and-out on Concordia-St. Paul's first possession of the game and the offense rolled from there going 82 yards on seven plays for the first score of the game.
With a heavy blitz coming from the CU defense, Heid scrambled to his left and went 44 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to give Augustana a 7-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. The 44-yard run by Heid marks a career-high.
Concordia-St. Paul responded with an eight minute drive on its next possession to set itself up with first and goal from the Augustana six-yard line but the defense would not let them any closer. On third down, Foth came up with a big sack to force the Golden Bears to attempt a 35-yard field goal. There was a bad snap on the attempt and CU holder James Peterson attempted a pass down field but Chad Curry knocked down the pass attempt to keep the Golden Bears scoreless.
Both teams were able to move the ball effectively in the first half but neither was able to put the ball in the end zone after Augustana's score at the 9:44 mark of the first quarter.
The Vikings totaled 171 yards of offense in the first half, including 96 yards on the ground and 75 passing yards. Concordia-St. Paul finished the first half with 115 yards of total offense. The Golden Bears rushed for 87 and threw for just 28.
Heid led the Vikings on the ground with 59 rushing yards and a touchdown while Ham rushed eight times for 24 yards. Gerry caught two passes for 39 yards in the half, including a 22-yard reception.
Spears led the Golden Bears with 63 yards on 16 attempts and Corey Cole picked up a 21-yard gain on one carry.
The Vikings got a big return on the opening kickoff of the second half when Gebhardt returned the kick 47 yards to midfield. Augustana was not able to pick up a first down and punted on the first drive of the half. On CU's first play from scrimmage in the second half, Skelly stepped in front of a Russo pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to give Augustana a 14-0 lead. The interception and the touchdown were both career firsts for Skelly.
Concordia-St. Paul's defense nearly snapped the shutout when Abdullah Asad returned an interception for a touchdown but the score was nullified after a penalty for a block in the back. CU was set up first and 10 from the Augustana 26 yard line but the Viking defense held the Golden Bears out of the end zone. Foth recorded his second sack of the game on third-down and nine for CU to force a field goal attempt that Obarski sent wide right.
Gebhardt returned a punt 39 yards with 11:31 remaining in the fourth quarter to set up Augustana's third score. The Vikings went 19 yards on four plays ending with a two-yard touchdown run by Ham to make it a 21-0 game. The touchdown marks the first rushing touchdown of the season by Ham.
Concordia-St. Paul thwarted Augustana's shutout hopes on a late touchdown pass by Peterson to Cordell Smith to make the score 24-7 after a successful point-after attempt by Obarski. Zollicoffer set up the score for the Golden Bears busting off a 40-yard run to get the ball into Augustana territory.
Augustana returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 9, traveling to Winona, Minn. to take on Winona State University. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Stadium.