ABERDEEN, S.D. — The Presentation College football team got a little help from Mother Nature and held off Lawrence University 17-10 on Saturday in the season opener at Clark Swisher Field.
Using a 20-plus mile per hour wind to its advantage in the first and third quarters, Presentation, an NAIA school, spoiled Lawrence’s first-ever football game in South Dakota.
Presentation quarterback Austin Eggl completed 21-of-29 passes for 136 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Saints were held to 37 yards rushing and just 173 total yards, compared to 231 for the Vikings.
Lawrence quarterback Ryan Butterfield completed 12-of-24 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown but was hurt by five drops. Donnel Haley paced a balanced Lawrence rushing attack with 40 of the Vikings’ 122 yards on the ground. Trevor Spina caught four passes for 41 yards to lead Lawrence.
Junior Jake Gostisha paced the Lawrence defense with 10 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss, and Cullen Ellis picked up a sack and also finished with 3.0 TFLs.
With the wind at its back, Presentation struck first with 6:24 left in the opening quarter. After converting a third-and-14 play earlier in the drive, the Saints took advantage of a broken coverage as Eggl connected with William Moffet on a 26-yard scoring pass for a 7-0 lead.
Lawrence came back to tie it on its final possession of the first half. A punt gave the Vikings the ball at the Presentation 44, and Butterfield got things going with an 11-yard run to the Saints’ 19. He then hit Wasonu Allen for a 12-yard gain to the Presentation seven.
After a pair of incompletions, Butterfield found Cam Boerm alone in the end zone for a touchdown with 29 seconds left to tie the game at 7-7.
Presentation decided to kick off to start the second half to take advantage of a howling wind at its back. It paid off with 10 third-quarter points.
The Vikings punted into the wind on their first possession, and the ball took a backward bounce, resulting in a two-yard punt to the Lawrence 15. The Lawrence defense stiffened and Jordan Taylor connected on a 31-yard field goal to put Presentation up 10-7.
The Vikings moved the ball close to midfield on their next possession, but the stiff breeze blew Cole Erickson’s punt out of bounds after only four yards. Presentation took over at its own 48 and drove down the field on a series of short passes to the flats. Wayne Scatena capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown catch from Eggl, and Presentation led 17-7 with 6:27 left in the third.
The Vikings took the ensuing drive inside the Saints’ 30 before stalling. Pat O’Mahoney then belted a career-long 45-yard field goal to trim the margin to 17-10 in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
The teams then traded turnovers as sophomore linebacker Hunter Adams picked off Eggl at the Lawrence 39 with a leaping interception. The Vikings drove inside the Presentation 30, but Allen’s fumble was recovered by the Saints’ Jeff Branch at the 27.
A short punt into the wind gave Lawrence the ball back at the Presentation 47, but O’Mahoney missed a 45-yard field goal with 6:11 remaining. The Vikings forced another punt and took over at the Lawrence 45 for their final drive.
Lawrence kept the drive alive by converting a fourth-and-11 when Trevor Spina made a diving catch for a 13-yard gain to the Presentation 32. After two incompletions, Butterfield was injured on a scramble with less than a minute left.
Backup quarterback Philip Santiago entered the game, but the Saints recorded sacks on the next two plays as the Vikings turned the ball over on downs.