It was a wild finish, but the Augustana Vikings football team couldn’t hold on at Lindberg Stadium in Rock Island as they were defeated on Saturday, November 6 by the visiting Carthage Firebirds in a final score of 37-30.

The Vikings got the ball away from the Firebirds on the opening drive, recovering a fumble on the third play from scrimmage to give the home team possession inside the Carthage 40. Augie scored the first points of the day four plays later on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Cole Bhardwaj to Bobby Inserra. The Vikings kept the 7-0 lead through the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Bhardwaj and Inserra connected again through the air, this time from 14 yards out for another Augustana touchdown. The point-after attempt was no good and the score was 13-0.

With 13 seconds left on the clock, Carthage found the end zone when a muffed snap was converted into a successful throw from their holder on the extra point attempt for two points. Augie held a 13-8 lead going into halftime.

A Viking fumble on their first possession of the second half gave the Firebirds the ball back inside Augie territory and led to their second score of the game. A second two-point conversion gave Carthage the lead for the first time at 16-13. It didn’t last, as Augustana came back with a scoring drive to reclaim the lead as Inserra and Bhardwaj connected in the end zone for the third time in the game. The 20-16 score barely had time to register as a 59-yard touchdown strike from Carthage a minute later put the visitors back on top 23-20 and stayed that way going into the fourth quarter.

Carthage padded their lead to 10 with a touchdown with less than three minutes left in the game, but two plays and 18 seconds later, the Vikings made it riveting with a 30-yard strike from Bhardwaj to Jordan Vesey to get within three.

An onside kick went out of bounds to give Carthage the ball back inside Augustana territory, but the Vikings prevented a first down on four tries from Carthage to regain possession with two minutes left. A fourth-down conversion kept the Augie drive alive and with 40 seconds left, Sidney Maroon sent a 42-yard field goal through the uprights to tie the game at 30-30.

(augustana.edu)

After a holding call, a first down for the Firebirds kept them in the game and they regained the lead with 20 seconds left on a 59-yard touchdown pitch and catch. Bhardwaj’s last-second heave for the Vikings fell into the arms of a Carthage defender, ending the game at 37-30 in favor of the Firebirds.

The Vikings out-gained Carthage 361-276 for the day, led by Inserra, who had a career highlight day as he hauled in 16 catches for 240 yards and the three touchtowns. Bhardwaj finished with 361 yards through the air on 25 completions. On defense, Dakota Straight picked up 10 tackles and five of them were solo. Josh Timm and Conner Waite each added seven more while Cole Romano and Ronde Worrels each contributed a sack.

The Vikings drop to 5-4 for the season and 4-4 in the CCIW. They close out the season next Saturday, November 12 on the road against No. 1 ranked North Central. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Naperville, IL.