Augustana falls in opening round of playoffs

PUEBLO, Colo. – The Augustana football season came to an end Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs. The Vikings fell 17-0 to No. 9 nationally and No. 4 in Super Region Four Colorado State-Pueblo.

The Vikings, the fifth seed in the Super Region, conclude their season 9-3 overall, tying for the second-most wins in program history. CSU-Pueblo improves to 11-1.

Both offenses struggled to gain ground in the first half with the Thunderwolves totaling 134 yards while the Vikings tallied 109 yards.

The Thunderwolves entered the intermission leading 3-0 on a 21-yard field goal from Mitchell Carter. The Vikings defense held strong after CSUP had first-and-goal from the four-yard line. After a Jordan Kitna incomplete pass, Nate Meredith came in strong, holding a Kitna rush to no gain. On third-and-goal, Sydney Capers perfectly defended a pass to force the fourth down and hold for the field goal.

On the ensuing Vikings' possession after the field goal, Augustana appeared to take a lead when Zach Masoli completed a 20-yard pass to Jake Welsheimer for a Vikings touchdown late in the second quarter. However, an illegal block penalty brought the play back and wiped the points off the scoreboard.

CSU-Pueblo went ahead 10-0 on its opening drive of the second half. Gunnar Lamphere scattered three yards into the end zone for the score. A 35-yard rushing score made it 17-0 early in the fourth quarter when Nick Williams ran into the end zone.

Cody Kujawa tallied his second interception of the season in the first quarter, giving the Vikings 19 pickoffs on the season.

Luke Fritsch and T.J. Liggett each tallied a team-high 10 tackles. Each of them recorded a tackle for loss.

Offensively, Masoli tallied 115 yards through the air. Drew Reinschmidt had 33 of those yards while Nickel Meyers and Brett Shepley had 32 and 27 yards receiving, respectively. Rudy Sinflorant totaled 24 yards rushing.

Kitna totaled 210 yards passing for CSUP while he was the team's leading rusher for 51 yards.

The Vikings season ends after reclaiming the Key to the City in its victory over Sioux Falls on Sept. 26, claimed 12 NSIC All-Conference honorees and had head coach Jerry Olszewski named the NSIC Coach of the Year. The senior class concludes their careers at Augustana with 28 victories.