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December 1, 2004

2004 FOOTBALL REVIEW

 

2004 FOOTBALL REVIEW

Vikings use punishing ground attack to roll to 7-3 overall record and third place finish in CCIW; Matt Roe sets NCAA record for quarterbacks with 342 yards rushing against Wheaton; Mike Clark and Mike Zeifert earn All-American honors; Augustana finishes third in nation in rushing offense

Fueled by an old Augustana staple: the punishing, ball control ground attack, the Vikings once again completed an outstanding season in 2004. It was vintage Augustana football as the offense, running behind an experienced line with a bevy of talented ball carriers, led the way for a 7-3 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. Although losses in the final two games of the season (31-10 to North Central on November 6 and 39-38 to Wheaton on November 13) stamped out any hopes of winning the CCIW title and advancing to the NCAA Division III playoffs, it was still an exciting year around venerable Ericson Field.

Head coach Jim Barnes completed his fifth year at the helm of his alma mater and when the season ended the Vikings were ranked 31st in the final D3football.com national rankings. It was a year that featured a resilient and tough brand of football where the Blue & Gold trailed in five of the seven victories, including at halftime of league wins against Illinois Wesleyan, Millikin and Elmhurst.

The season started with a bang on September 4, the earliest opening in school history when sophomore fullback Mike Guzman (Oregon HS, Oregon, IL) shredded the Central of Iowa defense for 114 yards on 12 carries with a pair of touchdowns in a 38-7 win in Pella, Iowa. The Vikings rushed for 447 yards on the day and the defense gave up just 23 yards rushing. Following on the heels of the earliest start in school history was the first ever night game at Ericson Field on September 11 against Upper Iowa. In a back and forth contest junior quarterback Matt Roe (Carmel HS, Libertyville, IL) slashed his way into the end zone from 11 yards out with 2:38 left to provide the winning margin in a 29-28 victory.

After the 2-0 start the Vikings had a week off before traveling to Wisconsin-Platteville on September 25 for another night game. When senior All-American kicker Mike Clark (Pleasant Valley HS, Bettendorf, IA) kicked a 37 yard field goal with just 1:46 to play to give his team a 23-22 lead it appeared that a 3-0 start was in the making. However, the Pioneers drove 75 yards on 14 plays to set up a 25 yard field goal by John Heck with just two seconds remaining on the clock to give Platteville a 25-23 win. Once again Guzman was over the 100 yard rushing mark with 109 yards on 24 attempts as the Vikings went over the 300 yard rushing mark for the third straight time.

In the conference opener against North Park on October 2 the stage belonged to junior wingback J.J. McDowell (Crystal Lake South HS, Crystal Lake, IL) who rushed for 201 yards on 17 attempts and scored two touchdowns in a 42-10 win. Augustana trailed 10-7 after one quarter before ripping off 35 unanswered points and ruining North Park’s dedication of its new Mike Holmgren Athletic Complex.

Playing before members of the 1984 NCAA Division III national championship team and facing the number one ranked defense in the nation was all the inspiration needed on Family Weekend, which took place at Ericson Field on October 9. The offense rolled up 309 yards rushing and the defense held Carthage to just 258 yards of total offense in a 35-0 victory over the eventual CCIW champion. That win was followed by a gutsy 30-28 triumph over Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington. Playing with a backfield that was battered and bruised, the Vikings gained 434 yards rushing on 70 attempts with Roe leading the way with 118 yards on 15 attempts and three touchdowns. Clark kicked the game winning field goal with 38 seconds left from 19 yards out and Kyle Simpsen (Ridgeview HS, Colfax, IL) secured the victory with an interception with just eight seconds left.

The defense rose to the occasion against Millikin on homecoming, holding the Big Blue to 117 yards rushing and 106 passing as Augustana won 24-17 despite being held to just 173 yards rushing. One week later things looked bleak at halftime against Elmhurst when the Bluejays took a 20-7 lead into the lockerroom. In the second half the Vikings got a pair of touchdowns from Greg Cozzi (Hinsdale South HS, Hinsdale, IL) and three from Guzman and won going away by a margin of 49-27. Guzman rolled up 174 yards on 18 attempts with three touchdowns and Cozzi gained 104 on 13 carries with two scores.

Nothing good came out of a trip to Naperville, Illinois as North Central won 31-10, defeating the Vikings for the first time since 1980. The Cardinal defense held Augustana’s vaunted rushing game to just 129 yards on 34 carries and the North Central offense gained 502 yards, 407 through the air.

Despite the loss, the Vikings still controlled their own destiny in both the CCIW and NCAA and in a classic battle with Wheaton on November 13 at Ericson Field, nearly pulled things out.

In one of the most scintillating individual performance in the storied history of Augustana College football, Roe sent statisticians scurrying through the record books. Roe, diminutive and ubiquitous, shredded the Wheaton College defense for 342 yards rushing on 44 attempts. It went for naught, however, as the Thunder scored on a two point conversion with just :43 left in the game to secure a 39-38 win that sealed a conference co-championship in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin for the visitors.

Despite the loss, Roe’s performance will be talked about for years as he slithered, slipped and powered his way time and again on option plays. He established a new NCAA record (all divisions) for most rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback. His 342 yards broke the old mark of 323 set in 1990 by Shawn Graves of Wofford (NCAA Division II) against Lenoir-Rhyne on September 15. The previous NCAA Division III record was "only" 235 yards by Mark Cota of Wisconsin-River Falls against Minnesota-Morris on September 13, 1986. Graves did his damage on 23 rushes while Cota carried the ball 27 times.

What was remarkable was the fact that of Roe’s 44 attempts, 14 of them went for two yards or less. On the flip side, however, 10 went for 10 yards or more. Like the energizer bunny, he did not wear down, gaining 196 yards on his final 10 carries of the game. He broke Joe Thompson’s Augustana school record of 300 yards rushing in a single game (set on November 15, 1975 on 38 attempts against Carthage). He also took down Richie Eichhorn’s school record of 41 rushing attempts set on October 23, 1971 against Illinois Wesleyan.

For what it is worth, his 342 yards rushing is the second highest total in CCIW history, trailing only the 382 of Pete Baranek of Carthage against North Central in 1985.

Roe was the engineer of an offense that ranked in the top five of the NCAA Division III rushing statistics all season long. The Vikings finished the year with 3,516 yards rushing in 10 games for an average of 351.6 yards per game. They also scored an average of 31.8 points per game. Roe ended up leading the team in rushing with 786 yards on 164 carries with 13 touchdowns. He added 589 yards passing on 21 of 53 with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Guzman was second on the team in rushing with 722 yards on 122 rushes and five touchdowns. McDowell picked up 642 yards on 92 carries with eight touchdowns and Aaron Kuzniar (Burlington HS, Burlington, WI) gained 518 yards on 88 attempts with three touchdowns.

The loss to Wheaton was the final game for 17 Augustana seniors: defensive back Alex Arguello (Davenport West HS, Davenport, IA), fullback Tukes Ayangbile (Fulton HS, Fulton, IL), defensive end Beau Biagi (Jacobs HS, Algonquin, IL), kicker/punter Mike Clark (Pleasant Valley HS, Bettendorf, IA), offensive lineman Tyler Coleman (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, IL), runningback Travis Guy (Davenport Assumption HS, Davenport, IA), offensive lineman Seth Korver (Washington HS, Cedar Rapids, IA), offensive lineman Jeff Purcell (Normal Community HS, Normal, IL), defensive back Ryne Richardson (Walther Lutheran HS, Bellwood, IL), linebacker Matt Sikorski (St. Francis HS, LaCrescenta, CA), offensive lineman David Stoltz (Peoria Woodruff HS, Peoria, IL), defensive back Jeff Sturek (Hickman HS, Columbia, MO), linebacker Steve Szpejnowski (Glenbard North HS, Carol Stream, IL), tight end Travis Temple (Erie HS, Erie, IL), defensive back Kelan Thompson (Aledo HS, Aledo, IL), offensive lineman Matt Weber (Buffalo Grove HS, Arlington Heights, IL) and defensive back Blair Westerly (Indianola HS, Indianola, IA).

This group entered the Augustana program in the fall of 2001 and since that time they compiled a record of 31-10 overall and 23-5 in the CCIW. They were part of one league title, one NCAA playoff appearance, two second place conference finishes and one third place. They were also 17-3 at home during that time span.

Clark left his mark on the Augustana program in a big way. He is the school record holder for career field goals with 31 and he scored 221 points to move into fifth place. He also averaged 39.3 yards per punt with 1,532 yards on 39 kicks with six touchbacks, one fair catch and seven that have been downed inside the 20.

Senior linebacker Steve Szpejnowski (Glenbard North HS, Carol Stream, IL) led the Augustana defense in tackles with 79 (53 solos and 26 assists)…He also had 10 tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks, three pass deflections and one interception…Beau Biagi (Jacobs HS, Algonquin, IL) led the team in tackles for loss with 20 for 105 yards and eight quarterback sacks for 73 yards.

Jim Barnes finished his fifth season at Augustana and he is 38-13 with the Vikings, including a 10-2 campaign in 2001 that resulted in a College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin title and a berth in the NCAA Division III national playoffs. Overall he is 74-26, including 37-13 in five years at College of Wooster. He headed into the 2004 season ranked 13th in all of NCAA Division III with a winning percentage of .747.

2004 AUGUSTANA VIKINGS SUPERLATIVES

AMERICAN FOOTBALL COACHES ALL-AMERICAN: Mike Clark

D3FOOTBALL.COM ALL-AMERICAN: Mike Clark, Kicker (second team) & Mike Zeifert, Offensive Tackle (second team)

AZTEC BOWL PARTICIPANT: Mike Clark

ESPN "THE MAGAZINE" ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN: Mike Clark

ESPN "THE MAGAZINE" ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Mike Clark, Blair Westerly & Aaron Kuzniar

FOOTBALL GAZETTE ALL-NORTH REGION: Mike Clark – first team; Mike Zeifert – first team; Steve Szpejnowski – third team

D3FOOTBALL.COM "OFFENSIVE LINE OF THE WEEK": Travis Temple, TE; Tom McIntire, TE; Jon Sebby, TE; Mike Zeifert, OT; Andy Quain, OT; Tyler Coleman, OG; David Stoltz, OG & Jeff Purcell, OC for game of 10/30/04 vs. Elmhurst

CCIW "PLAYERS OF THE WEEK": Mike Clark, K for game of 09/11/04…J.J. McDowell, WB for game of 10/02/04 vs. North Park…Matt Roe, QB for game of 10/16/04 vs. Illinois Wesleyan…Mike Clark, K for game of 10/16/04 vs. Illinois Wesleyan…Beau Biagi, DE for game of 10/30/04 vs. Elmhurst…Matt Roe, QB for game of 11/13/04 vs. Wheaton.

CCIW ALL-CONFERENCE: (First team) – Mike Zeifert, OT; Beau Biagi, DE; Steve Szpejnowski, LB; Mike Clark, PK (Second team) – Matt Roe, QB; Mike Guzman, FB; J.J. McDowell, WB; David Stoltz, OG; Jeremy Hall, DL; Blair Westerly, DB.

CCIW ACADEMIC ALL-CONFERENCE: Mike Clark

OFFENSIVE MVP: Matt Roe

DEFENSIVE MVP: Steve Szpejnowski

SPECIAL TEAMS MVP: Mike Clark

JERRY FRECK MOST INSPIRATIONAL: Joe Draffkorn

MOST VALUABLE FRESHMAN DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Tom Ferguson

MOST VALUABLE FRESHMAN OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Averill Sutchar

DEFENSIVE SCOUT TEAM MVP: Mark Slette

OFFENISVE SCOUT TEAM MVP: Andrew Forshee

NCAA RECORD (ALL DIVISIONS) – MOST RUSHING YARDAGE IN SINGLE GAME BY A QUARTERBACK: 342, Matt Roe (on 44 attempts) vs. Wheaton on 11/13/04

SCHOOL RECORD – MOST RUSHING YARDS IN SINGLE GAME: 342, Matt Roe (on 44 attempts) vs. Wheaton on 11/13/04, breaking old mark of 300 by Joe Thompson on 11/15/75

SCHOOL RECORD – CAREER FIELD GOALS: 31, Mike Clark

NCAA POST-GRADUATE NOMINEES: Mike Clark and Blair Westerly

NCAA STATISTICAL RANKINGS (INDIVIDUAL)

SINGLE GAME RUSHING: 2nd – Matt Roe with 342 vs. Wheaton on 11/13/04

PUNTING: 20th – Mike Clark with 39 punts for 1,352 yards for 39.3 average

TACKLES FOR LOSS: 21st – Beau Biagi with 18 (16 solo and four assists) for 1.80 tfl per game

FIELD GOALS PER GAME: 48th – Mike Clark at 0.7 fg/game with seven in 10 games

SINGLE SEASON SCORING: 49th – Matt Roe with 82 points in 10 games for 8.2 ppg

QUARTERBACK SACKS: 52nd – Beau Biagi with eight in 10 games for 0.8 per game average

NCAA STATISTICAL RANKINGS (TEAM)

RUSHING OFFENSE: 3rd – 3,516 yards in 10 games for 351.6 ypg

NET PUNTING: 10th – 1,569 punt yards and 147 return yards on 40 punts for net of 35.55 per punt

SINGLE GAME RUSHING: 12th – 497 yards against Wheaton on 11/13/04

SINGLE GAME OFFENSIVE YARDS: 15th – 647 yards against North Park on 10/02/04

RUSHING DEFENSE: 36th – 1,097 yards in 10 games for 109.7 ypg

TOTAL OFFENSE: 36th – 4,115 yards in 10 games for 411.5 ypg

SCORING OFFENSE: 40th – 318 points in 10 games for 31.8 ppg

TURNOVER MARGIN: 61st – 20 turnovers gained and 15 lost for +0.5 per game