Augustana falls in tough fourth quarter battle at Bemidji State

BEMIDJI, Minn. – A late drive from Bemidji State thwarted the Augustana football team's comeback bid in a 21-20 loss Saturday in Bemidji, Minnesota.

The Vikings, who trailed 13-5 entering the fourth quarter, took their first lead of the game on a Jarod Epperson five-yard run at 14-13. Augustana forced a fumble on the ensuing BSU drive and took over at the Bemidji State (4-1, 3-1 NSIC North) 46-yard line with 3:51 remaining in the game.

Augustana (3-2, 3-1 NSIC South) then used five plays over 2:37 to take a 20-13 lead with 1:12 remaining in the game. The drive opened with a 20-yard Epperson run and included a 17-yard dash from Devon Jones. After a Beaver time out, quarterback Kyle Saddler ran seven yards into the end zone for the seven-point lead.

After Luis Guarita's kickoff bounced off a Bemidji State player out of bounds, the Beavers needed to cover 95 yards to either tie or take the lead. Bemidji State did just that over 10 plays, with a 12-yard touchdown coming from quarterback Emmett Enright to Andre Chisley, Jr. Bemidji State then converted the two-point conversion for the final 21-20 score.

In a game that featured a ton of fourth-quarter offense, it was the defense that starred in the first half. Bemidji State ended the first stanza with a 3-2 lead. The Vikings scored their first safety since the 2015 season.

Augustana started to get some offensive momentum in the second half with a pair of field goals from Guarita in the middle of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth. Guarita connected on attempts from 40 yards and 35 yards, respectively. He has now connected on 90 percent of his field goal attempts this year, including his career-long of 40 yards on Saturday.

The 20 points scored by Augustana are the second-most surrendered by Bemidji State this season. The Vikings' defense held Beavers' offense to their lowest output all season at 289 yards.

Kyle Theis led the defense with eight tackles while Jake Denn had 1.5 tackles for loss totaling 15 yards. Kenneth Griffin intercepted his second pass of the season, giving Augie nine on the year.

Offensively, Epperson had the best game of his freshman campaign with 86 yards and the touchdown. He partnered with Rudolh Sinflorant who had 72 yards rushing on a rainy afternoon off Lake Bemidji.

Augustana returns to Kirkeby-Over Stadium on Saturday for the annual Viking Days Game, hosting St. Cloud State at 1 p.m.