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October 17, 2009

2009 Season - Augustana drops homecoming contest

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – A roughing the kicker penalty against Augustana with just over seven minutes left in the first quarter may have been the key play Saturday as Illinois Wesleyan spoiled the Vikings’ homecoming, winning 7-0 at Ericson Field.

After an impressive opening drive ground to halt at the Vikings’ 11-yard line, Titan kicker Michael Fenger lined up for a 28-yard field goal. He hooked the attempt wide left, but IWU got second life when Augustana was called for running into the kicker. On fourth-and-two Titan coach Norm Eash decided to pass on another field goal attempt and instead go for it. IWU was able to pick up the first down and two plays later, quarterback Brien Rooney found Michael Sloboda in the back of the end zone with a 4-yard touchdown pass to put the Titans on top. Fengers’ point after made it 7-0.

Augustana started at its own 30-yard line following the ensuing kickoff and it looked like the Viking offense was clicking when running back Robert Wood (Rockford Boylan HS, Loves Park, Ill.) burst into Titan territory on a nice run. Unfortunately he coughed the ball up as he was going down and IWU’s Neal Loftus recovered at the Titan 31.

As both team’s defenses tightened up, each offense got just one more first down until midway through the second quarter when IWU put together a nice drive.  The Titans moved from their own 43-yard line to the Viking nine in eight plays before a holding call pushed them back to the 19. On the drive’s ninth play, the Vikings’ Andrew Rosset (Maine West HS, Des Plaines, Ill.) intercepted Rooney at the Viking 13, ending the Titan threat.

Neither team could manage a first down the rest of the half and they went to intermission with IWU on top 7-0.

Augustana started the second half with excellent field position following a nice kickoff return by linebacker Eric Meyer (Harlem HS, Machesney Park, Ill.). Starting from their own 42, the Vikings quickly moved to the Titan 20 on five consecutive running plays. However, on first-and-ten from the Titan 20, Jake Parke (St. Joseph-Ogden HS, St. Joseph, Ill.) broke through for a seven gain but lost the football on his way down. The Titans’ Robert Beauchamp came up with the recovery and Augustana was thwarted again.

Both defenses continued their tremendous play as the next nine possessions, five by IWU and four by Augustana, produced a total of one first down for each team. Augustana missed another opportunity to put points on the board when Ryan Gibbons’ (Richwoods HS, Peoria, Ill.) 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked with just under seven minutes left. The Vikings would see the ball just one more time and the Titans’ Mike Kotz ended Augustana’s hopes by intercepting a David Lee (Springfield HS, Springfield, Ill.) pass at the IWU 45-yard line with 24 seconds left.

While the Viking offense moved the ball on occasion, it hurt itself with four turnovers. IWU, likewise, had some success, mostly through the air with Rooney completing 16-of-20 passes, but for just 145 yards. Augustana was more successful on the ground. Wood led the way with 76 yards on 16 carries while Lee struggled, completing just 4-of-15 passes for 30 yards while being intercepted twice and sacked four times. For the game, the Vikings produced just 135 yards and six first downs. Augustana’s defense limited IWU to just 75 rushing yards on 40 carries and intercepted Rooney twice. Rosset led the team with 10 tackles.

The loss was Augustana’s first at home to IWU since 2000 and drops the Vikings to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in CCIW play. Illinois Wesleyan improves to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference. The Vikings are home again next week when they’ll host the Carthage Red Men in a 6:00 p.m. contest at Ericson Field.