MINNEAPOLIS – Three kick returns for 141 yards and clutch defensive stops proved to be pivotal for the Royals on Saturday, as Bethel spoiled Augsburg’s homecoming celebration with a 21-20 victory against the Auggies.
What was slated as the Star Tribune game of the week proved to be just that as Auggies scored a touchdown with 1:46 remaining in the fourth quarter to make the score 21-20 in favor of the Royals. Instead of kicking the extra point, Augsburg attempted a two-point conversion that was broken up – which decided the game in the end.
BU got on the board early with an electric kick return by Brandon Marquardt, who was coming off an ankle injury a week ago. Marquardt returned the opening kickoff 61 yards to the Augsburg 25-yard-line before Erik Peterson went eight plays for the Royals’ first touchdown. Peterson ended the drive with a one-yard score with 12:11 remaining in the quarter.
Augsburg responded with an 11-play, 63-yard drive that ended in an Ayrton Scott touchdown pass to Tyler Swanson, which made the game knotted at seven. Scott and Swanson connected again in the second quarter on a five-yard pass that gave the Auggies its first lead of the game with 8:18 to go in the second quarter.
The Royals welcomed the ensuing kickoff as Mitch Hallstrom had 61-yard kickoff return that put Bethel in threatening position again. Bethel took advantage of great field position by putting together a seven-play, 28-yard touchdown drive before the end of the first half that evened the game at 14.
Following the intermission, BU held Augsburg in its opening drive before scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a nine-play, 44-yard drive lasting 2:43. In the series, Marquardt and Marshall Klitzke rushed for a combined 37 yards in three carries before Erik Peterson ran in his third touchdown of the day – all inside the two-yard-line.
The Auggies remained competitive, however, keeping the Royals scoreless throughout the remainder of the second half and setting themselves up for a score with 1:46 to play. Yet a failed two-point conversion, a BU recovery on the subsequent onside kick, and Mehlhorn’s interception in the final seconds sealed Augsburg fate and awarded Bethel the victory.
Erik Peterson finished the day with all three scores for the Royals and ended 7-for-14 with 49 yards passing. Peterson’s three-touchdown game was the second consecutive three-score game by a BU player.
Marshall Klitzke led Bethel on the ground with 54 yards on 11 carries, followed by Brandon Marquardt, who managed 30 yards on six touches. As a team, Bethel did not turn the ball over once and capitalized on three Auggie turnovers.
Defensively, the Royals held Augsburg’s quarterback Ayrton Scott to 350 total yards. Scott has been averaging well over 400 yards throughout the entire season. Mathis ended the day with 15 tackles, while Trent Duppenthaler ended with 11 wrap-ups. Erik Smith and Brett Skoog were well in the mix as well, as both finished with nine tackles with at least one for loss.
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