For the second week in a row, a Loras quarterback etched his name into the school record books while making his first start under center. Senior Nik Schulte’s record-shattering debut performance and a second-half defensive surge pushed the Duhawks past Augustana, 56-52, Saturday at the Rock Bowl.
Schulte, who began the season 3rd on the depth chart for Loras (1-2), completed 47 passes for 588 yards and 6 touchdowns against the Vikings (1-2), setting new school records in all 3 categories.
“I have a lot of great teammates,” Schulte said, deflecting praise for his individual accomplishments. “It’s the guys around me. I knew if I could just sling it out to my guys that they’d make the plays, and they did.”
One of those guys making plays for Schulte was senior Nate Even, who broke his own school record with 265 receiving yards, and found the end zone twice. Even’s 16 receptions tied another Loras record.
“Nate Even, oh my gosh,” Schulte said of his most potent weapon.“There’s no one like him. He’s made plays for us year-in and year-out. Even when guys think they can double cover him like they did today, he still gets open and makes plays.”
“Nik Schulte was incredible today,” Even said of his quarterback. The feeling is reciprocal.
The Duhawks’ defense struggled to contain Augustana’s Sam Frasco early in the game, allowing the mobile quarterback to break free for 276 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground in the first half of play. The Vikings took a 49-27 lead into the locker room at the break.
Loras’ defense stiffened in the 3rd quarter, forcing punts on 4 consecutive Vikings possessions. Schulte’s three third-quarter touchdown throws gave the Duhawks 22 unanswered points and tied the game at 49 heading into the final quarter.
“We changed some of the things we were doing,” Loras coach Steve Helminiak said of his defense’s second-half adjustments. “We didn’t bring the same kinds of pressures because we wanted to bottle that kid up. I think (Augustana) went away from their game plan a little bit. They didn’t put the ball in (Frasco’s) hands to run anymore. They started throwing the ball more, and that played into our hands a little bit.”
Augustana regained the lead on a 24-yard Jacob Stytz field goal, but the Duhawk defense wasn’t finished making its second-half statement. With the Vikings driving near mid-field and looking to extend their advantage late in the game, junior safety Bryan Hermann intercepted a pass batted into the air by linebacker Damon Davies and returned it 50 yards for a Loras touchdown. Hermann’s pick-six put the Duhawks ahead by 4 points with 5:45 left on the clock.
“Hermann’s a great player,” Helminiak said. “He’s exactly the type of guy we want in our program: top-notch student, top-notch person and a top-notch player.”
Former Dubuque Senior prep Wes Bowers nabbed an interception from Frasco with 1:24 left to play, sealing the Duhawks’ first win of the season.
“It’s a great team win,” Helminiak said. “To get the win and have the knowledge that they can do it is huge for us. It propels us into our bye week and into conference play, so it’s a huge win for our guys.”
The Duhawks will enjoy a well-earned bye this week before opening Iowa Conference play at home against Coe on Oct. 3.