September 1, 2011
2011 Season - Comeback falls just short in Cushman debut
|Junior running back Brett McWilliams led Augustana with 68 rushing yards and scored a touchdown, but the Vikings fell to Dubuque 18-13 in the 2011 season opener.|
ROCK ISLAND, Ill.-A valiant second-half comeback came up just short Thursday night as Augustana dropped an 18-13 decision to Dubuque in Rob Cushman's Viking head coaching debut. The Spartans jumped out to a 18-0 halftime lead before Augustana came back to cut the lead to 18-13 early in the fourth quarter. The Vikings had a chance to take the lead on four possessions in the final period, but couldn't come up with the winning score.
The Augustana defense forced the Spartans into a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, but the Dubuque offense got on a roll after that, scoring touchdowns on three of its next four possessions and rolling up 303 yards of total offense in the first half. Running back Justin Spaulding capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive, scoring from 13 yards out to make it 6-0 Spartans with 8:01 left in the first quarter. The point after was no good.
Following an Augustana punt, the Spartans got on the board again. This time it was quarterback Wyatt Hanus hooking up with Miles Hookstead on a four-yard scoring pass just before the end of the first period. That drive also covered 80 yards-this time in 10 plays. Dubuque went for two but was denied by the Viking defense, leaving the score at 12-0.
After the Vikings stopped one Dubuque drive by recovering a fumble, the visitors put together yet another 80-yard march, culminated in a four-yard touchdown pass from Hanus to Kevin MacCudden with 3:12 left in the half. The Spartans failed to convert a PAT for the third time and the score was 18-0 at intermission.
The second half was an entirely different story as the Vikings took the kickoff and ran off an 18-play, 79-yard scoring drive which consumed 10 minutes. Junior running back Brett McWilliams (Hononegah HS, Roscoe, Ill.) capped it off with a one-yard touchdown run to get the home team on the scoreboard.
A well-rested Augustana defensive unit allowed Dubuque just three plays for minus five yards on its opening possession of the second half and the Vikings got the ball back at the Spartan 38 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Nine plays and three-and-a-half minutes later junior running back Nate Pena (Neuqua Valley HS, Bolingbrook, Ill.) went in from five yards out to cut the margin to 18-13, where it stayed when the attempt at a two-point conversion failed.
After the Vikings stopped a Dubuque drive on downs at the Augustana 34, the hosts looked to continue their momentum by striking quickly. Senior quarterback David Lee (Springfield HS, Springfield, Ill.) found Zachary McCullough (St. Charles North HS, St. Charles, Ill.) wide open behind the Spartan secondary. However, McCullough couldn't reel in the toss and Augustana went three-and-out on the series.
The Viking defense continued to come up with stops, but the offense couldn't capitalize, committing turnovers on its next two possessions. The hosts had one final gasp after a Steve Jones punt pinned them at their own one-yard line with 1:01 left, but four plays couldn't produce a first down and the Spartans were able to take a knee to end the game.
McWilliams carried 17 times for 68 yards to lead the Viking ground game. Lee connected on 18 of 32 passes for 146 yards with one interception. McCullough caught six passes for 40 yards and senior tight end Keith Abbey (Rich East HS, Park Forest, Ill.) had five grabs for 32 yards. Sophomore Erik Westerberg (York HS, Elmhurst, Ill.) was the leading Viking tackler with 10 total tackles on six solo stops and four assists.
Spaulding ran for 147 yards on 24 carries, but the Vikings limited him to just 21 yards on 10 carries in the second half. Hanus completed 20 of 26 passes for 168 yards and two scores.
A week from this Saturday, on September 10, the 0-1 Vikings head to Pella, Iowa to face the Central Dutch. Game time for that contest is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.