Augustana passes big road test at Wayne State

Vikings win 32-24 ahead of showdown at Mankato
Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 11:55 PM CDT
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WAYNE, NE (Dakota News Now) - The Augustana football team defeated a ranked opponent for the first time since 2015 in a 32-24 victory Saturday at No. 23 Wayne State. The Vikings, ranked No. 22 in the latest AFCA Coaches’ Poll, move to 6-1 on the season while the Wildcats suffer their second loss of the year to fall to 5-2.

Augustana outgained Wayne State 530 yards to 364 yards with 332 through the air from Kyle Saddler and 198 on the ground with Jarod Epperson leading the way with 127.

After forcing a 3-and-out on defense to open the game, the Viking offense ran a 9-play, 78-yard drive to take the early 7-0 lead. The scoring play was a 31-yard touchdown from Saddler to Sean Engel, his ninth touchdown reception of the season.

Wayne State answered with a field goal at the conclusion of a 6:46 drive as the first quarter ended with AU leading 7-3.

The Saddler to Engel scoring connection happened for the fifth-straight quarter in the second quarter as Saddler hit Engel for a 20-yard touchdown as Augustana concluded an 11-play, 75-yard drive for a 14-3 lead.

Ben Limburg split the uprights on a 43-yard field goal with 9:14 remaining in the second quarter to push the lead to 17-3. However, Wayne State answered back on its ensuing drive and pulled within a touchdown as Anthony Watkins scrambled into the end zone from four yards out. The 17-10 score proved to be the halftime score.

Augustana received the kick to open the third quarter and drove 67 yards with Limburg again split the uprights, this time a 25-yard field goal as the lead was extended to 20-10.

The Vikings then jumped into cruise control with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter as Devon Jones received a 40-yard pass from Saddler to jump out to a 26-10 lead. The touchdown concluded a quick 3-play, 80-yard drive.

The two squads then traded touchdowns down the stretch as Wayne State scored on a 48-yard touchdown before AU answered back on another Jones touchdown. The second touchdown of the day for Jones was an 18-yard touchdown into the left corner of the end zone to complete a 9-play, 75-yard drive spanning just over five minutes. That score pushed Augustana’s lead to 15 points with 14:54 remaining in the game.

Wayne State put the pressure on Augustana by scoring with 4:23 remaining the game to pull within a single possession (touchdown and 2-point conversion).

However, the Augustana offense did exactly what it needed to do and ran the clock out by running the ball and getting a timely first down on a third-and-four.

Engel recorded his second-straight 100-yard receiving game and third of the season with six receptions for 144 yards and the pair of touchdowns. Logan Uttecht totaled five receptions for 55 yards while Jones’ three receptions netted him 69 yards. On the ground, Epperson carried the ball 17 times for 127 yards, an average of 7.5 per carry. He entered the contest as the NSIC’s leader in rushing yards.

Defensively, T.J. Liggett continued to prove to be one of the best linebackers in the league as he totaled 12 tackles, 10 of which were solo. Peyton Buckley and Eli Weber each recorded seven tackles while Weber grabbed his second interception of the season.

Augustana’s defense was credited with four pass breakups, one each from Ligget, Luke Fritsch, Ben Kemp and Jake Polson.

The Vikings travel to NSIC preseason favorite Minnesota State for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

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