NCAA FOOTBALL: SMSU stuns Augie, awaits bowl game
SMSU Sports Information
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 the Mustangs – their longest winning streak since 1999 – and also snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Vikings, dating back to 1991.
SMSU ended 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.
As a reward, the Mustangs earned their first trip to a bowl game. SMSU will face Pittsburg State, Kan., the winningest football team in NCAA Division II history, in the Mineral Water Bowl at 12 p.m. Dec. 7 in Excelsior Springs, Mo.
Augustana ends the season 4-7 NSIC, 2-5 NSIC South.
“We made enough plays to win because all three phases of the (offense, defense, special teams) did some really god things,” Southwest Minnesota State head coach Cory Sauter said. “When we’re able to get turnovers, create field position with our kickoff returns and coverage and, offensively, we were able to score in the 30s. All week, my thought was scoring 30 points or more would put us in a great position to win and we accomplished that goal.”
The Mustangs’ 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.
The Mustangs began the game by 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-1 to Anthony Dean with 9 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
SMSU converted three fourth-down conversions, while Kern was 6 of 6 passing on the drive for 46 yards.
“Augustana is a team that you definitely don’t want to be ahead in the game because the strength of their team is defense,” Sauter said. “With that, the Vikings are capable of creating a lot of turnovers, just by the style of their play. One of our main focuses was to prevent an interception or a fumble because that is what keeps teams in ballgames.”
Augustana put together a scoring drive on its first possession, moving the ball to the SMSU 21-yard line, before settling for a 42-yard field goal by Ben Albrecht with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
The Mustang 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 answered 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-5 set up a 33-yard field goal attempt by Albrecht, but Mustang defensive end A.J. Page broke free and blocked the attempt to keep SMSU ahead by four points.
Following another SMSU punt, the Vikings drove deep into 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.
“We talked about getting our guys to play for four quarters in all three phases at a 212-level, which has been our theme this season,” Sauter said. “We wanted to put it all together for this final regular season game.”
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 intermission 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 next possession, giving the ball back to SMSU at the Augustana 46-yard line. Despite the great field position, the Mustang offense stalled at the 18-yard line and was forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt by Schuveiller that 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 C.J. 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 Augustana quarterback Trey Heid at the Viking 27-yard line for his team-leading fourth pick off of the season.
SMSU moved the ball to the 4-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.
The Mustangs quickly added to their lead with Kern swinging a pass to Britt Wickett on third-and-4 from the SMSU 48-yard line as 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 Augustana 46-yard line before facing fourth-and-2 with 2:13 remaining following the Vikings’ last timeout.
The Mustangs 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 a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the contest.
Sauter praised SMSU’s senior contributors.
“All of our seniors made some things happen,” Sauter said. “On offense, Anthony Dean came up with two touchdowns for us, Britt Wickett scored a touchdown, our offensive line did a great job the whole game, and then we had Cody Condon come through for us with a big touchdown catch on a fourth down play that, essentially, sealed the game.”
Augustana attempted one more comeback, but Alex Oliver forced a fumble at the SMSU 14-yard line and teammate McKoy Rodning recovered to secure SMSU’s win.
Blake Pennock led the Mustangs with 11 tackles, while Dashawn Miller racked up nine stops, including 2 for loss and 1 1/2 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.
SMSU 34, AUGUSTANA, S.D. 24
SMSU7 3 7 17 – 34
Augustana3 0 0 21 – 24
SMSU – Anthony Dean 16 pass from Charlie Kern (Lan Schuveiller kick), 9:28.
AUGIE – Ben Albrecht 42 field goal, 3:30.
SMSU – Schuveiller 25 field goal, 0:06.
SMSU – Dean 4 pass from Kern (Schuveiller kick), 9:40.
AUGIE – CJ Ham 1 run (Albrecht kick), 14:58.
SMSU – Schuveiller 22 field goal, 10:07.
AUGIE – Ham 1 run (Albrecht kick), 6:34.
SMSU – Britt Wickett 52 pass from Kern (Schuveiller kick), 5:16.
AUGIE – Noah Huisman 19 pass from Trey Heid (Albrecht kick), 3:43.
SMSU – Cody Condon 46 pass from Kern (Schuveiller kick), 2:06.
Total Net Yards397411
Time of Possession27:4232:18
RUSHING – SMSU (Charlie Kern 16-50, Tyler Tonderum 31-115); Augustana (Trey Heid 12-43, Dajon Newell 14-53, CJ Ham 6-16).
PASSING – SMSU (Kern 22-30-233-4-0); Augustana (Heid 31-45-300-1-1).
RECEIVING – SMSU (Anthony Dean 3-38, Jordan Cross 6-37, Britt Wickett 7-76, Cody Condon 2-52, Adam Olson 1-14, Tyler Toderum 2-16); Augustana (Noah Huisman 7-75, Darren Niklason 4-69, Grant Gebhardt 6-61, CJ Ham 4-43, Matt Gerry 3-25, Dajon Newell 6-23).
MISSED FIELD GOALS – SMSU 1 (Lan Schuveiller 40); Augustana 2 (Ben Albrecht 33, 38).