A furious fourth quarter rally fell just short as Wayne State was denied on fourth and goal at the eight yard line in the final seconds as Augustana held on for a 27-21 Northern Sun Conference football win over Wayne State Saturday evening before a crowd of 2,026 on Family Day at Cunningham Field in Wayne. Augustana is now 2-1 and 2-1 in the NSIC South while WSC is 1-2 and 1-2 in divisional play.
The game was scoreless after one quarter, but Wayne State used a tipped pass and interception return for a touchdown of 36 yards by Odessa Clark to take a 7-0 lead at the 11:15 mark of the second quarter.
Augustana responded with a touchdown on the ensuing drive to even the score at 7-7 as Rudy Sinflorant capped a 58-yard drive on nine plays with a one-yard run with 8:18 to go in the half.
The Vikings closed the half with another Sinflorant run, this one from two yards out, with 39 seconds to play in the second quarter, giving Augustana a 14-7 lead.
Augustana scored on its opening possession in the third quarter on a 13-yard pass from Kyle Saddler to Chet Peerenboom to put the Vikings ahead 20-7.
The Vikings used a ball control, rushing attack for the rest of the third quarter to hold a commanding 384-97 advantage in total yards entering the fourth quarter.
Augustana scored early in the fourth quarter on a Braiden Petersen two-yard run to take a 27-7 lead with 13:38 to play when Wayne State started their comeback.
Sophomore running back Marlon Warren capped a 75-yard drive on seven plays with a seven-yard TD run, cutting the Viking advantage to 27-14 with 11:28 remaining.
Later in the quarter following an Augustana punt, WSC marched 62 yards on six plays with the drive capped by an amazing one-handed grab in the end zone by Nate Rogers from Aaron Bleil on a 20-yard scoring play to cut the Viking lead to 27-21 with 3:41 to play.
Wayne State forced another Viking punt and got the ball at their own 35 with 2:27 to play.
The ‘Cats used a pair of Bleil scrambles of 13 and 10 yards to move the ball to the Viking 35. Passes of 11 yards to Willie Walton and 15 to Jamal Albsousafi moved the Wildcats to the Viking 8. Following three incomplete passes, WSC had 4th and goal at the 8 and a pass to Nate Rogers in the back of the end zone was out of bounds as the Vikings escaped with the 27-21 win.
Augustana outgained WSC in the contest 459-296 with the Wildcats gaining 199 yards in the fourth quarter rally.
The Vikings had 284 rushing and 175 passing while the ‘Cats gained 67 yards on the ground and 229 passing.
Marlon Warren was Wayne State’s top rusher with 45 yards on 13 carries and one score followed by Bleil with 21 yards on nine attempts.
Bleil completed 20 of 44 passes for 229 yards with one touchdown. Nate Rogers finished with nine catches for 100 yards and one TD followed by Willie Walton with six receptions for 86 yards.
Defensively, junior linebacker Tyler Thomsen recorded a game-high 13 tackles. Ian Ailts added eight with one pass breakup. Odessa Clark added a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Wayne State has a short week for their next contest as the Wildcats travel to St. Paul, Minnesota to face Concordia-St. Paul Thursday night at 6 p.m.