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November 7, 2009

2009 Season - Despite Lee's record day, Vikings fall

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Things were looking up for the Augustana Vikings when they took a 20-17 lead with just 30 seconds left in the first half of Saturday’s game against North Central. However, the Cardinals came right back, going 60 yards in just two plays, capped by a back-breaking 46-yard Aaron Fanthorpe to Steve Hlavac touchdown pass with six seconds left in the half to regain the lead, 24-20. North Central went on to ride the huge momentum swing to a 45-26 win.

The Vikings fell to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the CCIW despite a school-record 28 completions by quarterback David Lee (Springfield HS, Springfield, Ill.). Lee’s mark surpassed the previous record of 25, set by Ken Anderson against Carroll in 1970.  Eleven of Lee’s completions went to senior Matt Downing (Morton HS, Morton, Ill.), who fell one shy of the school record for receptions in a game. North Central improved to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play.

The Viking defense got things started on the right foot when Ben Hall (University HS, Normal, Ill.) put a big hit on Hlavac to separate him from the ball on the game’s third play from scrimmage. Augustana linebacker Cody Wickenhauser (Tri-Valley HS, Downs, Ill.) came up with the recovery to give the Vikings possession at the Cardinal 48-yard line.

Facing a fourth-and-one at the North Central 39, Augustana lined up in punt formation, but when Viking punter Alex Schroeder (Batavia HS, Batavia, Ill.) saw an opening around left end, he sprinted for the sticks and made it with a yard to spare. North Central was penalized 15 yards for a late hit on the play as well, putting the ball at the Cardinal 22. From there the drive stalled, but Augustana’s Ryan Gibbons (Richwoods HS, Peoria, Ill.) gave the Vikings a 3-0 with a 37-yard field goal.

After forcing a Cardinal three-and-out, the Vikings went back to work, driving from their own 44-yard line to the North Central 25 before the drive again stalled. Gibbons’ 42-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright, but Augustana caught a break when the play was blown dead for delay-of-game. On his second chance, Gibbons’ 47-yarder was on the mark and Augustana led 6-0.

North Central took a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter when Hlavac got behind the Viking secondary and hauled in a 32-yard Fanthorpe toss in the back left corner of the end zone. On Augustana’s second play of the ensuing possession, Josh McLeod picked off an overthrown Lee pass and returned it 38 yards to Augustana’s 10-yard line. Two plays later Phillip Rossberg broke several tackles on his way to a 14-yard touchdown run, bumping the Cardinals’ advantage to 14-6.

The Vikings came right back with Lee guiding them on a nine-play, 68-yard drive that was capped by Lee’s two-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal. Gibbons’ point after attempt was no good and the score remained 14-12.

A 27-yard Morgan Sheridan field goal pushed the North Central lead to 17-12 before the Vikings caught a huge break. Forced to punt for the first time with just over a minute-and-a-half left before halftime, Schroeder’s kick was muffed by the Cardinals’ Joe Schneiderbauer. Augustana’s Corbett Ball (Buffalo Grove HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) made the recovery at the Cardinal 20 and it took the Vikings just four plays to get in the end zone with Lee and Downing connecting on a beautiful fade route for the final eight yards.

Then came the game’s turning point. Taking over at his own 40-yard line with just 30 seconds left in the half, Fanthorpe connected with Hlavac for 14 yards to the Viking 46 and on the next play, found Hlavac again behind the Viking secondary and in the end zone. Sheridan’s point after gave North Central the 24-20 halftime lead.

The Cardinals maintained that momentum into the second half, forcing Augustana to punt on its first two possessions and then getting a 3-yard touchdown run by Rossberg to cap a six-play, 75-yard drive. That made the score 31-20 with 1:10 left in the third quarter and North Central pushed the lead to 38-20 when Fanthorpe hit tight end Kyle Fiedorowicz with a 16-yard touchdown pass at the 7:04 mark of the fourth.

Lee then led Augustana on a 12-play, 83-yard touchdown drive to cut it to 38-26 with 3:31 left. He completed five passes on the drive with the final one going five yards to Downing for the score. The touchdown pass was also Lee’s 26th completion of the game, breaking Anderson’s record.

After recovering Gibbons’ on-side kick, it took North Central just four plays to go 44 yards for the final nail in the Vikings’ coffin. Pat Malek’s one-yard touchdown run accounted for the final score of 45-26.

Fanthorpe returned from an injury in last week’s loss to Illinois Wesleyan to have a huge day. He connected on 19-of-24 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns. Hlavac was on the receiving end seven times for 166 yards and two of the scores. Rossberg carried 16 times for 113 yards and a touchdown as well.

Lee finished the day with 28 completions in 40 attempts for 257 yards—a new career high for the sophomore. Downing hauled in 11 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, leaving him just one off Paul Ander’s school record of 12 receptions set against Luther in 1968. Robert Wood (Rockford Boylan HS, Loves Park, Ill.) ran for 47 yards on 13 carries to lead a Viking rushing attack that produced just 105 yards on the day.