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Augie Comeback Falls Short in Duluth



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DULUTH, Minn. – No. 2 Minnesota Duluth (4-0, 4-0 NSIC) scored 28 points in the second quarter helping the Bulldogs to a 42-34 win over Augustana (2-2, 2-2 NSIC) in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football action on Saturday night in Duluth, Minn.

Minnesota Duluth has now won six consecutive games over Augustana, improving to 7-2 all-time against the Vikings. 

Augustana outgained Minnesota Duluth in total offense with 409 yards in the game, including 301 through the air. The Vikings scored 28 points in the second half, but it was too little too late as Augustana came up short.

The Vikings had a big opportunity to take a lead early in the game but after an interception by the Viking defense, Minnesota Duluth's Colby Ring stepped in front of a Josh Hanson pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 14-3.

Hanson finished the game 28 of 49 passing for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Grant Gebhardt had a big day for the Vikings making eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. This marks the third game this season Gebhardt has had 100-plus receiving yards. Gebhardt also had a 36-yard punt return which set up a Viking touchdown early in the third quarter.

Dajon Newell finished the game with 79 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Isaac Jorgensen caught five passes for a career-high 55 yards for the Vikings. Darren Niklason caught four passes for a career-high 67 yards and his first career touchdown.

UMD's Chase Vogler finished the game 17 of 29 passing for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Sikorski rushed 18 times for 85 yards and two scores for the Bulldogs. Joe Reichert caught six passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.  

Thomas Vanasek led the Viking defense with a career-high 11 tackles. Austin Luecke finished with 10 tackles. Ross Peterson snagged his first interception of his career in the loss.

The Bulldogs opened the scoring driving down the field on their first possession of the game. UMD used a 17-yard run by Sikorski and an 18-yard reception by Zweifel on the 11-play 78-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead just under five minutes into the game. Just one play after the 17-yard dash by Sikorski, he found the end zone on a one-yard plunge on the very next play.

The Vikings answered on their first possession of the game driving to the UMD 12-yard line but would have to settle for a field goal. On third down, Hanson found Parsley in the corner of the end zone where he made a one-handed catch but was called out of bounds by the officials. Behrens led the field goal unit on to the field and drilled the 29-yard attempt to bring the score to 7-3 in favor of UMD.

On the very next drive the Bulldogs took another drive deep into Augustana territory but on the first play of the second quarter, Ross Peterson intercepted a Volger pass and the Vikings took over at their own 14-yard line.

Just three plays later, Ring intercepted a Hanson pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown to extend UMD's lead to 14-3 after the extra point by Andrew Brees.

The Vikings moved the ball down the field on the next possession aided by an outstanding 32-yard reception by Gebhardt. Hanson found Gebhardt with one-on-one coverage and he made the catch with the defender right on top of him to get into Bulldog territory.

Augustana appeared to have a first down on a pass from Hanson to Huisman but he was called out of bounds setting up fourth down and nine for the Vikings from the UMD 26-yard line. Behrens then drilled a 43-yard field goal to make the score 14-6 in favor of the Bulldogs.

UMD took the wind out of Augustana's sail on the ensuing kickoff when Aaron Roth returned the kick 92 yards to give the Bulldogs a 21-6 lead less than 20 seconds later.

Augustana went three-and-out on its next possession setting up the Bulldogs 1st and 10 at their own 43-yard line. Four plays later, Vogler hit Joe Reichert for a 39-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 28-6 lead with 4:06 to play in the first half.

The Vikings sustained a long drive on its first possession of the second half but eventually were forced to punt. Augustana's defense came up big on the next possession forcing the Bulldogs to punt setting up a big return by Gebhardt.

The sophomore returned the punt 36 yards to set the Vikings up at the UMD 26 yard line. Five plays later, Newell plunged into the end zone on a two yard carry to bring the score to 35-13 after the extra point by Behrens.

The Viking defense came up big on UMD's next possession forcing the Bulldogs to punt once again. Hanson led the Viking offense on an eight-play 65-yard drive capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Darren Niklason to bring the Vikings within 15 at 35-20.

UMD answered with a 72-yard drive that ended with Sikorski's second touchdown of the game, a 10-yard rush with 13:09 left to play in the game that extended the Bulldogs' lead to 42-20.

Hanson once again led the Vikings on a scoring drive on Augustana's next possession. The senior quarterback completed seven passes on the drive ending with a 25-yard pass to Gebhardt for his first touchdown of the game to bring the Vikings within 15 at 42-27.

Augustana was set up with great field position with 7:30 to play in the game after just a 10-yard punt by the Bulldogs. The snap went over the punters head but he was able to get the ball off before the Viking defense could converge.

On third down and 10 to go, Augustana set up a screen pass to Newell but Hanson was flushed out of the backfield and was called for intentional grounding setting up fourth down and 29 for the Vikings and a punt by Behrens.

The Vikings got the ball back with 4:53 to play in the game and drove down the field once again going 13 plays in 2:22 ending with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Hanson to Ben Parsley.

Augustana attempted an onside kick but the Bulldogs were able to come away with the ball and run out the clock on the Vikings for the win.

Augustana returns to action next Saturday taking on Wayne State at 1 p.m. in Wayne, Neb.   
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