SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The Augustana football team scored 26-straight points to claim a 26-13 victory over Wayne State Saturday in Kirkeby-Over Stadium.
It was a tale of two halves as the Augustana (2-1, 2-1 NSIC South) offense racked up 278 of its 395 yards in the second half while holding Wayne State (1-2, 1-2 NSIC South) to 61 yards in the second half.
“The defense was already playing well in the second quarter,” head coach Jerry Olszewski said. “They figured it out after the first two drives. Offensively, I think we really reeled all first half. Starting in the third quarter, we started to have a little bit of a drive, had some momentum and field position. I look forward to continuing to grow on that said because we did some good things there.”
After falling behind 13-0 in the second quarter, sophomore Luis Guarita connected on a 30-yard field goal to put the Vikings on the scoreboard just before the intermission break. On the third drive of the third quarter, Guarita was able to get some momentum pushed in the Vikings direction with a 34-yard field goal with 2:53 on the clock.
With just under two minutes on the clock in the third quarter, the Vikings took over at their own 45. After a penalty backed them up to the 30, junior Kyle Saddler connected with senior Brett Shepley for a 49-yard completion, the longest play of the day. With the first offensive momentum of the game, freshman Jarod Epperson rushed for 17 yards, setting up a Saddler-to-Shepley four-yard touchdown. The score was the third-straight game that Shepley has tallied a touchdown. After Guarita’s point after, the game was knotted at 13.
On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore T.J. Liggett stripped the ball from Justin Martin and freshman Devon Jones fell on the fumble to set up the Vikings on the Wayne State 11-yard line. Guarita hit his third field goal of the game to give Augie the 16-13 lead just seconds into the fourth quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out on the following Wildcat possession, Augustana took control on a 4-play, 50-yard drive to take a 23-13 lead. The scoring play was a 23-yard touchdown reception for senior Jake Welsheimer from Saddler.
Although not quite a three-and-out, the defense again held firm as Eli Weber intercepted Andy McCance to give Augustana yet another drive to put points on the scoreboard. This time it was a 13-play, 55-yard drive ending with Guarita’s fourth field goal of the game for the commanding 26-13 lead with 3:58 remaining.
As Wayne State was making a last-ditch effort to try and stir-up a comeback, freshman Jake Polson intercepted McCance to seal the game for the Vikings. Polson’s interception was the third on the day for the Vikings as Grayson Diepenbrock had a pickoff midway through the second quarter.
The defense was led by Liggett with nine tackles and two forced fumbles. Senior Kenneth Griffin totaled seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Junior Logan Swanson and sophomore Nate Meredith each tallied a sack while Andrew Henrich also recorded a tackle for loss.
Wayne State quarterback Andy McCance entered the third week of NSIC action as the league’s top passer with 285 yards per game. The Vikings held him to 246 yards, sacking him twice and intercepting three passes. The Wildcat offense pushed 50 yards on the ground to end the day with 296 yards of total offense.
Saddler finished the day 25-of-48 for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Welsheimer had 96 of those yards receiving while Shepley totaled 89 on five receptions. Epperson tallied a season-best 63 yards on the ground.
“I’m proud of how our kids bounced back in the third and fourth quarters and really dominated those quarters,” Olszewski added. “We were able to run the football, Jarod (Epperson) brought a punch to it and helped us in that aspect. The offensive line did a nice job in the second half to cover up some stuff.”
Augustana now readies for a short week, playing in the NSIC Thursday Night Game of the Week at Sioux Falls. The Key to the City game is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Bob Young Field.