The late-October weather was fantastic, the quality of football could have been better, but the Saturday, Oct. 25 Carthage-Augustana (Ill.) game at least turned into a close and entertaining contest. After falling behind by 24 points in the third quarter, the Carthage College football team (2-5, 1-3 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin) had a chance at the end to knock off CCIW-opponent Augustana College (Ill., 3-4, 2-2 CCIW) but fell a little short, 31-26, at Art Keller Field in Kenosha, Wis.
Augustana took a 7-0 lead at 9:58 first quarter with an 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive that ended with a one-yard carry by Sam Frasco. Frasco scored again at 7:27 first period on a 44-yard scamper that made it 14-0. A 48-yard field goal by Conner Murray at 8:22 second period upped the Vikings' lead to 17-0. The Red Men got on the scoreboard at 6:01 second period on a one-yard touchdown run by Derek Bellamy to cut the lead to 17-7. The Carthage scoring drive was set up by a 66-yard kick return by Jamahl Wright. Murray connected on two more field goals late in the half to give the Vikings a 23-7 halftime lead. His second field goal came at 1:28 and the third as time ran out in the half.
Augustana looked like it had the game under control when the Vikings scored again at 4:33 third period on a seven-play, 99-yard drive. After Carthage downed a punt on the Augustana one-yard line, the Vikings' Brandon Price got loose for a 71-yard run that set up a three-yard touchdown run by Frasco, giving the Vikings a 31-7 lead.
The Red Men scored on their next possession, going 70 yards on 15 plays, with Nick Anzelmo finding Robert Anderson for a two-yard TD pass at 13:48 fourth quarter. The two-point conversion failed, and Carthage trailed, 31-13. The Red Men got the ball back on the first-of-two successful on-side kick, but the next drive stalled out on the Augustana eight-yard line. Terrance Allen recovered a Vikings fumble in Augustana territory at 7:24, and the Red Men needed only seven plays to convert that turnover into a touchdown, with Anzelmo hooking up with tight end Javier Rhoades on a 10-yard touchdown pass at 5:01. The Thomas Brannan point-after failed, but Carthage pulled to within 12 points, 31-19.
The Red Men recovered their second onside kick but again fell short of the end zone before turning the ball over on downs at the two-yard line. Vikings running back Benjamin Hodges promptly fumbled the ball at the goal line. Terrance Allen recovered and scored the touchdown. Brannen's kick was good this time, and the Red Men trailed by just five points, 31-26, at 2:37.
The third try at an on-side kick didn't work as well, but the Vikings turned the ball over on downs, giving the Red Men one more chance with under a minute to play. Two completed passes from Anzelmo to Jamahl Wright, one for 27 yards and the other for 15, brought the ball to Augustana 37-yard line, but two incomplete passes, sandwiched around a 19-yard sack, ended Carthage's hopes for a last-second win.
Augustana collected 375 total offensive yards, 325 yards rushing and 50 yards passing, while Carthage had 347 total yards, 96 on the ground and 251 in the air. The Red Men had a 21-20 edge in first downs and a 30:23-29:27 margin in time-of-possession. Augustana tailback Sam Frasco ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, while Brandon Price ran for 95 yards on 13 carries. Tailback Derek Bellamy (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./Monterrey Trail) rushed for 56 yards on 13 carries. Red Men quarterback Nick Anzelmo (So., Schaumburg, Ill.) completed 24-of-56 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns, with Jamahl Wright (Jr., Brookfield, Wis./Hartland-Arrowhead) catching eight passes for 97 yards.
"We didn't play a very smart game," admitted Carthage coach Mike Yeager, "and we killed ourselves on both offense and defense with penalties. When you face an offense like Augustana's, you have play a sound game, and we weren't in the first half. We played better in the second half, but it was too little and too late. If we'd played a 60-minute game, we would have been fine. We also didn't do a very good of containing their running game. I told our guys afterward that we're not going to win until we become a smart football team. When we do things right, do the correct assignments and avoid stupid penalties, we'll win."
Carthage travels to Decatur, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 1 to take on conference-opponent Millikin University (2-5, 0-4 CCIW) a 1 p.m. game at Frank M. Lindsay Field.