ABERDEEN, S.D. (AUGIE) — Augustana football is a win from an NSIC Championship. The No. 21 Vikings prevailed 31-21 at Northern State on Saturday. Augustana controlled the entirety of the game while Jarod Epperson surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards.
Augustana improves to 9-1 on the season with an 8-1 mark in NSIC action. Northern State falls to 4-6, 4-6.
Epperson, who became the third player in Augustana history to surpass 3,000 rushing yards, totaled 172 yards and a touchdown to lead the rushing attack. Defensively, Haden Wallace garnered an interception while Seth Baker forced a fumble that was recovered by Kade Lynott.
After receiving the opening kick, the Vikings used a lengthy drive to open a 7-0 lead. On the 11th play of an over six-minute drive, Casey Bauman connected with Mitchell Goodbary for a four-yard touchdown.
Augustana then forced a missed field goal from the Northern State and embarked on a five-play, 80-yard drive to push a 14-point lead in the first quarter. Jarod Epperson ripped off a 36-yard rush to open the drive and set the tone which followed with pass completions of 23 and 19 yards to Isaiah Huber and Devon Jones, respectively. The drive was finished by Kyle Graham on a 3-yard rush.
In a defensive-dominated second quarter, Jake Pecina scored the only points of the frame with a 41-yard field goal. That gave AU the 17-0 lead at halftime.
The Wolves scored the only points of the third quarter when they embarked on a 12-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with a one-yard rush.
The Vikings got back into the scoring column with 10:56 remaining in the game as Bauman tossed a 12-yard pass into the end zone for Logan Uttecht. The senior made the diving catch to cap AU’s second 71-yard drive of the game.
On the ensuing NSU drive, the Wolves went 68 yards over four plays to mark a 24-14 game.
Marking another scoring drive, Epperson made his historic run with 5:27 remaining in the game. He capped a six-play, 75-yard drive with a 14-yard run which lifted him over the 3,000-yard mark.
The Wolves would get on the scoreboard late in the game as the final score settled at 31-21.
Peyton Buckley and Baker each recorded six tackles while each also recorded a tackle for loss. The Vikings sacked the Northern State quarterback twice, with half sacks credited to each Will Davis, Matt Chitty, Zachary Richardson and Isaiah Ryan. Davis’ strong game also had him with two pass breakups and four total tackles.
Vikings’ quarterback Casey Bauman tossed for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns with 63 of those yards going to Huber.
Strengthening his All-America case, Avery Book punted three times for an average of 51 yards. He totaled a long of 53 with all three going 50-plus yards and placed two punts inside the 20. Augustana plays its regular-season finale Saturday by hosting Bemidji State. Augustana will be playing for its second NSIC Championship in three years, where a win would give it at least a share of the conference title. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.