Last-second kick gives Augie first 0-3 start since ’56

By Adam Soebbing

Logan Mitseff had just missed a go-ahead field goal from 19 yards out in the final minutes Saturday when Augustana gift-wrapped one more chance for the Adrian kicker.

This time, from much farther out, he was right on target.

Mitseff nailed a 45-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Bulldogs to a 17-14 victory over the Vikings at Ericson Field.

While Adrian (3-0) swarmed onto the field to celebrate its first-ever win over Augustana, the Vikings faced the reality of the program’s first 0-3 start since 1956.

“You have no idea how tough it is,” Augie running back Brett McWilliams said.

Just moments before the heartbreak, the Vikings were setting up for their own game-winning field-goal attempt when running back Nate Pena fumbled on the Adrian 25 yard-line with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs’ Blake Shotwell pounced on it at the Adrian 36, and quarterback Brandon Miller hit Justin Hemm for 36 yards on the next play to set up Mitseff’s game-winner.

“We’re going down to kick the game-winner and we fumble, and they make one play and kick the long one,” said Augie coach Rob Cushman. “We were gonna play for overtime, but then we thought we could move the ball a little bit and get into field-goal range, and that’s what happened. We had a good play called. We fumbled the football.”

Augustana and Adrian combined to punt 19 times as both offenses struggled to move the football. Adrian, which entered the game ranked seventh in the nation in total offense with 538.5 yards a game, was held to 289 yards Saturday. But Augie was even worse on offense, grinding out a season-low 252 yards, mostly on the ground.

“Defense played great. Offensive line was awesome in the run game,” said McWilliams, who rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns. “We just didn’t get things done in the pass game really and we let a lot of opportunities go.”

Augie opened the scoring with a nine-play, 73-yard touchdown march on its first drive, and Adrian answered soon after with a 30-yard Miller touchdown pass to Hemm on fourth-and-4 to tie the game.

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That was it for scoring until a flurry of action with 9 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Augie defensive end Pete Schimeck sacked Miller near his own end zone, forcing a fumble that was recovered on the 1-yard line by the Vikings.

McWilliams ran it in for his second touchdown to give Augie the lead at 14-7 with 9:06 to play, but he was flagged for excessive celebration after the score.

Kicking off from its own 15 after the penalty, Augie allowed Danny Cobb to take the kick 73 yards for the game-tying score just seven seconds later.

“We kick off from the 15 and our special teams coverage broke down,” Cushman said. “That kind of gets lost because of the last series of events. That’s inexcusable. You should expect to score from the

1-yard line. We shouldn’t have a penalty there.”

The Vikings are off next Saturday before beginning College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin play at home against Millikin on Oct. 1.

“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Cushman said.

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