Bulldogs beat Augustana, move on to DII semifinal

Saturday didn't start well for Minnesota Duluth as the football team announced two player suspensions shortly before the Bulldogs' NCAA Division II quarterfinal against Augustana.

Robbie Aurich
Minnesota Duluth linebacker Robbie Aurich (41) scoops up a ball that was fumbled Saturday by Augustana quarterback Josh Hanson late in the second quarter during NCAA Division II national quarterfinal game action at Malosky Stadium. Aurich ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. (Clint Austin /

Saturday didn't start well for Minnesota Duluth as the football team announced two player suspensions shortly before the Bulldogs' NCAA Division II quarterfinal against Augustana.

Then the game started, and it got even worse.

But this is no ordinary UMD team, and the unflappable Bulldogs proved to be just that, overcoming an early 6-0 deficit to run past Augustana 24-13 before 3,083 at Malosky Stadium.

Top-ranked UMD (13-0) advances to play third-ranked Northwest Missouri State in next weekend's NCAA Division II semifinals, with the time and site to be determined today. The Bearcats (12-1) advanced with a 37-20 victory over Central Missouri.

Senior Brian Hanson of Proctor led UMD with a


career-high 25 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown.

"I think we responded exceptionally well," UMD coach Bob Nielson said. "Give credit to these guys. I think we showed a lot of character and a lot of poise in coming away with a big win.

"We want to be a ball control football team on offense, and we want to be a team that plays super defense, and the guys who played today responded."

The Bulldogs played without star receiver D.J. Winfield and starting tight end Ryan Hayes, who were suspended for violating team rules. Nielson wouldn't elaborate or say whether the two would play next week, only saying the suspensions were "indefinite."

UMD already is without injured All-American running back Isaac Odim, which begs the questions: How many key players have to be out before it ultimately makes any difference? How deep can this team be?

Hanson made it sound like a trained chimp could suit up and run behind the Bulldogs' huge offensive line.

"All my success is because of the big boys up front," Hanson said. "They put their time in for film study and were ready for all the crazy fronts that Augie threw at them. They handled it really well, and it made hitting the holes easy -- almost."

UMD's rushing attack and stifling defense controlled the game, with 247 of the Bulldogs' 308 yards coming on the ground against an Augie team that had been yielding only 81.1 rushing yards per game, eighth-best in the nation.


Conversely, Augustana (11-2) ran 25 times for 50 yards -- 127 below its average.

UMD controlled the ball for 40 of the game's 60 minutes.

"We do what we do," Nielson said. "It wasn't easy, but I think the key was staying patient with our running game. We were satisfied with getting four or five yards a crack and sometimes not even that -- just keeping the football and keeping it away from them. If you're going to double the time of possession on somebody, there's a pretty good chance you're going to win the football game."

After a Chase Vogler interception on UMD's opening drive, Augustana scored just three plays later when quarterback Josh Hanson found Tyler Schulte behind the Bulldogs' secondary for a 34-yard TD strike.

"It was great to get the quick score, but we knew it was going to be a long game," Schulte said. "Then we missed the extra point, and that was kind of a telltale sign for how the game was going to go for us offensively. It was just little things all day. It was all on us."

UMD responded with one of its best drives of the season, a 10-play, all-run, 62-yard masterpiece capped by Hanson's four-yard touchdown plunge. The Bulldogs added another TD run midway through the second quarter and put an exclamation point on the half when linebacker Robbie Aurich scooped up Josh Hanson's fumble and rumbled 23 yards for another score to put the Bulldogs ahead 21-6 just 51 seconds before the break.

"I had tunnel vision when the ball appeared, and I did my best not to get into the end zone," Aurich said, laughing. "It's always nice to get a defensive score, and you get all that momentum going one way. It's like gasoline on a fire."

Augustana took advantage of a fake punt and roughing the kicker penalty to score late in the third quarter, but UMD's ability to consistently move the football on the ground chewed up what little clock was left.


Next stop: national semifinals.

Augustana 6-0-7-0--13

Minnesota Duluth 7-14-3-0--24

First Quarter

AUG -- Tyler Schulte 34 pass from Josh Hanson (kick failed), 12:56

UMD -- Brian Hanson 4 run (David Nadeau kick), 6:51

Second Quarter

UMD -- Brad Foss 1 run (Nadeau kick), 7:56


UMD -- Robbie Aurich 23 fumble recovery (Nadeau kick), :51

Third Quarter

UMD -- Nadeau 42 field goal, 9:39

Fourth Quarter

AUG -- Joe Clark 1 run (Drew Behrens kick), 2:52

A -- 3,083.


First downs 11 19


Rushes-yards 25-50 61-247

Passing 130 61

Comp-Att-Int 14-28-1 5-9-1

Kick returns-yards 3-60 3-41

Punts-yards 0-0 3-20

Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-1

Penalties-yards 0-0 3-30

Time of possession 20:44 39:16



RUSHING -- Augustana, Clark 9-50, Behrens 1-18, Adam Diamond 2-3, J. Hanson 13--21. UMD, B. Hanson 25-124, Chase Vogler 13-67, Foss 20-59, Harrison Andrews 1--1, Team 2--2.

PASSING -- Augustana, J. Hanson 14-28-1-130. UMD, Vogler 5-9-1-61.

RECEIVING -- Augustana, Schulte 4-63, Eric Ellingsworth 3-36, Sam Holsen 2-15, Isaac Jorgensen 1-10, Jordan Marshall 1-7, Clark 1-4, Diamond 1-0, Nate Mahone 1--5. UMD, Pat Alexander 2-22, B. Hanson 1-19, Josh Quilling 1-11, Noah Pauley 1-9.

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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