WAUKESHA, Wis. — The Augustana football team not only suffered another heartbreaking setback on the field Saturday night, but also lost their starting quarterback in the 28-25 loss to Carroll at Schneider Stadium.
With 4:53 left in the second quarter, junior signal-caller Zach Fuller scrambled for a first down deep in Carroll territory in the CCIW opener for both. As he approached the sideline, he was pushed out of bounds and landed awkwardly after a little jump. He stayed down on the ground and was eventually carted off the field on a stretcher.
According to coach Steve Bell, Fuller suffered a dislocated ankle. He said there was probably also ligament damage, but no break.
“It's unfortunate; I feel bad for him," Bell said of Fuller. "His foot was in a weird position when he came out of the air.”
Just as painful was another loss in a game the 0-3 Vikings dominated at times. However, for the third straight start, the Vikings found a way to lose as they had to settle for too many field goals -- Jacob Stytz tying a school record with four field goals.
“When we get inside the red zone, we gotta score touchdowns and not field goals,” lamented Bell. “It was painful to lose it the way we lost again.”
Despite Fuller's injury, fellow junior QB Luke Bleyer (11 of 18, 147 yards and a TD) came in and relieved admirably, driving the Vikings to two second-half leads.
Augie dominated the third quarter, holding the ball for 11 of the 15 minutes. Ryan Pitra's 1-yard run with 3:17 left in the third gave the Vikings an 18-14 lead – their first since going up 9-7.
After a Pioneers TD with 6:41 left in the game gave the hosts a 21-18 lead, Bleyer lofted a lengthy aerial to Ethan Jennings behind the Pioneer defense that resulted in a 55-yard scoring strike. Stytz's PAT kick gave Augie a 25-21 lead with 4:59 left in the game.
However, the Viking defense couldn't get stops late as Carroll – despite three 15-yard penalties in the drive – scored again with the dagger at :49.5 left. QB Colton Bahling, who had two TD tosses and another rushing TD, hit a wide open Parker Zeitzke in the left corner of the end zone with the game-winner.
“We just had a blown coverage; our guy didn't do what he was supposed to do,” Bell said. “We went outside the box. It was a good play-call by them, but it should have been matched.”