Darren Niklason sparked Augustana’s offense with a career-high three receiving touchdowns and 125 yards leading the Vikings (4-5 NSIC, 2-3 NSIC South) to a 35-27 victory over Concordia University, St. Paul (2-7 NSIC, 1-4 NSIC South) in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division play on Saturday afternoon in St. Paul, Minn.
Niklason hauled in a career-high 10 passes leading all receivers in the game. Augustana quarterback Josh Hanson finished 28 of 28 passing with four touchdowns. Hanson now has a career-high 27 touchdown passes and has thrown four or more passes in a game four times this season.
Hanson is now just one touchdown pass away from tying the school record for career touchdown passes. The senior has thrown 68 career touchdown passes and needs one more to tie the school record set by Eric DeGraff (1997-2000).
Augustana finished the game with 443 yards of total offense, marking the eighth game that the Vikings have gained 400-plus yards of total offense. The Vikings rushed for 154 yards, led by Dajon Newell, who finished the game with 108 yards and a touchdown. Newell matched his career-high with his seventh touchdown of the season.
Concordia-St. Paul finished the game with 373 yards of total offense, including 266 through the air. Quarterback James Peterson finished the game 16 of 33 passing for three touchdowns.
Augustana improves to 6-3 all-time against the Golden Bears and have now won five straight games over Concordia-St. Paul.
Augustana held the Golden Bears to 107 rushing yards in the game. The Augustana defense put the offense in great field position multiple times in the game. The Vikings’ forced two fumbles in the game. Nate Kirby led the defensive unit with nine tackles, including five solo.
After an entire quarter of scoreless football, Augustana found the end zone three plays into the second quarter on a 20-yard touchdown run by Newell that put Augustana up 7-0. Hanson kept the drive moving down the field completing three passes of 10-plus yards to set up the game’s first touchdown. The score marked the seventh touchdown of the season for Newell, matching his career-high for scores in a season.
The Golden Bears answered with a strong drive moving into Augustana territory for the first time of the game. The Viking defense held strong and forced CU to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Obarski to make the score 7-3 with 8:09 to play in the first half.
Augustana looked to answer right back on its next drive moving down the field with ease, including a 31-reception by Darren Niklason, which matched his career-high. The Vikings lined up on fourth down and one from the CU 21-yard line but Hanson mishandled the snap and was sacked for a loss of seven yards turning the ball over on downs.
Augustana’s defense got the ball back into the hands of its offense with another three-and-out. The Vikings took over at their own 12-yard line after a 54-yard punt by Obarski and began to drive down the field.
A false start penalty on Sam Lee moved the Vikings from second and four, to second and nine and Augustana would fail to get the first down after an eight-yard run by Drew Behrens on a fake punt. Behrens ran around the right side of the line and he dashed toward the first down marker but came up just a yard shy giving the Golden Bears the ball at the 50-yard line with two minutes left in the first half.
Concordia-St. Paul took advantage of the great field position after the fake punt by the Vikings and drove down the field on seven plays to take a 10-7 lead with 34 seconds left in the first half. Peterson scrambled to his right and found Nate Thienes along the sideline and he rumbled his way into the end zone for the score.
Augustana would not go away quietly taking back the lead before halftime. The Vikings drove 61 yards on four plays using, needing just 27 seconds to take a 14-10 lead into the locker room. The Golden Bears sent the kickoff short and a 23-yard return by Nate Kirby set the Vikings up with great field position.
Hanson rushed for 18 yards and a first down on the first play of the drive and followed that with a 30-yard completion to Jorgensen giving the Vikings a first down at CU’s 13-yard line. After an incompletion Hanson hit Darren Niklason for a 13-yard touchdown, his second of the season.
Augustana finished the half with 280 yards of total offense, including 177 yards through the air. Niklason and Jorgensen each finished the first half with 55 receiving yards. Hanson was 14 of 21 passing for 177 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings had 15 first downs in the first half, while holding the Golden Bears to seven. Augustana was just 1 of 5 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down in the half. Augustana held the Golden Bears to just 48 yards rushing in the half. Peterson was 9 of 18 passing for 109 yards and a touchdown. Concordia’s defense had three sacks in the first half, two by Zach Moore.
The Viking defense came up with a big turnover on Concordia’s second possession of the second half. Joel Slinden stripped Peterson of the ball while scrambling and Jake Lee recovered the fumble at Augustana’s 45-yard line.
The turnover set up the Viking offense to go 55 yards on four plays ending in a 17-yard touchdown catch by Niklason, his second of the game, giving Augustana a 21-10 lead with 8:09 left in the third quarter.
Augustana was able to extend its lead to 28-10 after another Golden Bear turnover. Thomas Vanasek recovered a fumble by Tre Spears setting up the Vikings with a first down their own 45-yard line. Six plays later, Hanson found a leaping Ben Parsley in the back of the end zone. Parsley jumped above the defender and tipped the ball up in the air and made the catch from his back in the end zone for his team-leading ninth touchdown.
The Golden Bears cut the lead to 28-13 when Obarski drilled a 59-yard field goal with 12:53 to play in the game.
Augustana responded with a 14-play drive that took up six and a half minutes of game clock that ended with Niklason’s third receiving touchdown of the game, giving Augustana a 35-13 lead with 6:22 left in the game.
The Golden Bears would not go away quietly when Peterson hit Mason for a 27-yard touchdown with 4:17 left in the game to make the score 35-20.
Augustana was set to punt the ball away on its next drive but a bad snap recovered by the Golden Bears set up the game’s final score. Peterson hit Thienes for his second touchdown of the game with 2:10 to play to cut Augustna’s lead to 35-27.
Concordia-St. Paul attempted an onside kick but were called for illegal touching and Augustana was able to run out the clock.
Augustana returns home next Saturday to host Winona State in its final home game of the season. Opening kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Kirkeby-Over Stadium.
Courtesy: Tim Evans, Augustana SID