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SMSU Drops Augie To Keep Bowl Hopes Alive



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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Charlie Kern completed 22 of 30 pass attempts for 233 yards and four touchdowns to lead Southwest Minnesota State to a 34-24 victory over Augustana on Saturday in Sioux Falls, S.D.

 

The win was the fourth straight for SMSU – the program’s longest since 1999 – and also snapped a 15-game losing streak to Augustana dating back to 1991. SMSU ends the regular season with a 7-4 record, 5-2 NSIC South. The seven victories ties for the third most in program history and marks the most wins in the NCAA Division II era.

 

SMSU will await word on Sunday for a possible Mineral Water Bowl berth. The bow game features the highest ranked NSIC team not to qualify for the NCAA playoffs versus a team from the MIAA. The NCAA selection show will be tomorrow 4 p.m. CST at NCAA.com

 

Augustana ends the season 4-7 NSIC, 2-5 NSIC South.

 

SMSU’s Tyler Tonderum – the nation’s leading rusher – finished the game with a hard-fought 115 yards on 31 carries. It was his eighth 100-yard rushing game of the season. He finished the regular season with 1,979 yards rushing on 315 attempts.

 

Britt Wickett finished with a team-high seven receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown, while Anthony Dean caught four passes for 38 yards and two touchdowns.

 

The Mustang offense, which entered the game ranked fourth in Division II in total offense, was held to a season-low 397 yards on 79 plays with 22 first downs. SMSU entered the game averaging 549.5 yards per game.

 

SMSU started the game taking the opening kickoff and driving 65 yards on 15 plays with Kern closing the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth and one to Anthony Dean with nine minutes and 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter. SMSU converted three fourth-down conversions on the drive. Kern was 6 for 6 passing on the drive for 46 yards.

 

Augustana put together a scoring drive on its first possession, moving the ball to the SMSU 21-yard, before settling for a 42-yard field goal by Ben Albrecht with 3:30 left in the first quarter.

 

The SMSU offense would go three-and-out on its next drive, but a 46-yard punt by Mike Wenk pinned the Vikings at their own 3-yard line. Despite the poor field position, Augustana would answer in a big way, picking up four first downs and moving the ball to the SMSU 16-yard line. An incomplete pass on third and five set up a 33-yard field goal attempt by Albrecht, but AJ Page broke free and blocked the attempt to keep SMSU with the four-point lead.

 

Following another SMSU punt, the Vikings once again drove deep in SMSU territory, but again stalled at the 22-yard line setting up another Albrecht field goal attempt. For the second time in the quarter, Page again broke free and blocked his team-leading fourth kick of the season to keep the score 7-3.

 

The Mustang offense took advantage of the block and moved 64 yards on 19 plays with Lance Schuveiller closing the half with a 25-yard field goal to give SMSU a 10-3 advantage at halftime. The 19-play drive was the longest scoring drive of the season for the Mustangs.

 

SMSU was held to just 151 yards in the opening half with 11 first downs, while Augustana finished with 161 yards and 10 first downs.

 

Augustana was forced to punt on its first drive of the second half and SMSU took over at its own 45-yard line. Tonderum started the drive with a 27-yard run and eight plays later Kern tossed a 4-yard touchdown to Dean to make the score 17-3 at the 9:40 mark of the third quarter.

 

The Vikings went three and out on their possession, giving the ball back to SMSU at the Augustana 46-yard line. Despite the great field position, the SMSU offense stalled at the 18-yard line and was forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt by Schuveiller that was missed wide right.

 

Augustana countered on its next drive, picking up a key third-down conversion with a 42-yard pass and capped the drive with a 1-yard run by CJ Ham on the first play of the fourth quarter to trim the SMSU lead to 17-10.

 

Following a punt by SMSU, the Mustang defense came up with its biggest play of the game as Donovan Woods intercepted Heid at the Viking 27-yard line for his team-leading fourth INT of the season. SMSU moved the ball to the four-yard line, but an incomplete pass on third-and-goal forced the Mustangs to have Schuveiller kick a 22-yard field goal with 10:07 remaining to make the score 20-10.

 

Augustana wouldn’t go away and put together a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Ham to trim the lead to 20-17 with 6:34 left in the game.

 

SMSU quickly added to the lead with Kern swinging a pass to Britt Wickett on third and four from the SMSU 48-yard line and the senior broke free down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown to make the score 27-17 with 5:16 left.

 

Once again Augustana had an answer with Heid completing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Noah Huisman with 3:43 on the clock to trim the margin to 27-24.

 

SMSU picked up a first down on the ensuing drive and later moved the ball to the Augie 46-yard line before facing fourth-and-two with 2:13 remaining following the Vikings’ third charged timeout. SMSU elected to go for it and Kern delivered in a big way. The junior signal-called lofted a pass to Cody Condon who made the grab and sprinted into the end zone to make the score 34-24 with just over two minutes remaining in the contest.

 

Augustana attempted one more comeback, but Alex Oliver forced a fumble at the SMSU 14-yard line and teammate McKoy Rodning recovered to secure the win.

 

Blake Pennock led SMSU with 11 tackles, while Dashawn Miller racked up nine stops, including 2.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. Woods ended the game with eight tackles with one for loss and the interception.

 

Heid completed 31 of 45 pass attempts for 300 yards and one touchdown to pace the Vikings.

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