The Augustana University football team overturned a three-year losing streak against longtime rival University of Sioux Falls on Thursday night and once again claimed the Key to the City.
The Vikings (3-1, 3-1 NSIC South) used a strong second-half defensive performance to lock down the Cougars (2-2, 2-2 NSIC South) and secure the 20-13 victory.
“Finishing is something we talk about all of the time,” said head coach Jerry Olszewski. “To have that happen in the way that it did was really special. The kids all bought in and there was never a second they didn’t believe that they were not going to win this game.”
In the first quarter, an early touchdown by freshman running back Jarod Epperson and an extra-point kick by sophomore kicker/punter Luis Guarita propelled the Vikings to an early seven-point lead, but with 3:33 left in the first quarter, the Cougars battled their way to 6 points with a long touchdown drive.
A field goal by Guarita in the second quarter brought the Vikings to 10 points and in the third quarter, a 25-yard pass to USF redshirt-sophomore running back Thuro Reisdorfer put the Cougars in the lead.
With 37 seconds left in the third quarter, the Vikings tied up the score with another field goal and at 12:39 in the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Zach Masoli—who replaced junior starting quarterback Kyle Saddler late in the third quarter—ran into the endzone, breaking the tie and bringing the Vikings up to 20 points.
A pass interception by Eli Weber late in the final kept USF’s offense from rallying and allowed Augustana to walk away with the 20-13 victory.
“We keep the same personality throughout the whole game [and] don’t get too low or too high on ourselves,” said Kyle Theis. “Being steady and just going out there and fighting. That’s what Vikings do, we just go out there and fight on.”
Saddler led Augustana passing, but he only completed six of 22 passes. Jarod Epporson was both the leading rusher and receiver with 47 yards rushing and 39 yards passing.
Defensively, T.J. Liggett led the team in tackles with 10. Sydney Capers, Eli Weber and Kyle Theis followed with eight tackles each. Logan Swanson and Grayson Diepenbrock each accrued two sacks each, while Luke Fritsch had one.
“Offensively we did just enough,” said Olszewski. “Our defense set up field position and special teams won this game. That was the plan.”
The football team will travel to Bemidji, Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 5 to take on Bemidji State University. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
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