Vikings’ football advances to DII playoffs after claiming conference championship

For the first time in 62 years, the Augustana football team is an overall conference champion.

The Vikings captured the NSIC championship on Saturday with a 55-0 rout of Southwest Minnesota State in Kirkeby-Over Stadium. 

For only the second time in school history, the Augustana football team will be hosting a home playoff game. Augustana, advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the second-straight season, will host Bemidji State on Saturday in the opening round.

“I love seeing my guys happy,” coach Jerry Olszewski said. “It’s all about them. It’s all about their experiences. They came to Augustana to play for championships.” 

The game was won on the ground. Like they have been doing almost all year, the Vikings held the Mustangs to negative 19 rushing yards. Yes, the negative is real. 

Meanwhile, Augustana recorded 275 yards rushing and added 298 yards through the air for 573 yards of total offense. 

Running back Rudolh Sinflorant totaled 104 yards rushing while true freshman Tate Johnson recorded 91 yards on the ground and scored his first career touchdown. Quarterback Kyle Saddler tossed for 273 yards and two touchdowns with tight end Mitchell Goodbary leading the way with 60 receiving yards.

Defensively, the Vikings were led by Grayson Diepenbrock and Jacob Ludwig with five tackles each. Diepenbrock totaled two tackles for loss and a sack. Seth Baker forced a fumble while Ludwig, Lincoln Boetel and Peyton Buckley each recovered fumbles for the Vikings.

Augustana ends the regular season with a 9-2 record while finishing 5-1 in the NSIC South to also claim the division championship. 

The Vikings haven’t lost a game at Kirkeby-Over Stadium since 2018. They earned the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Super Region Four and will play host to the 9-2 Beavers. 

The last time the two took the field together, Augustana prevailed in a 52-24 win over the Beavers on their home turf. Saddler threw for six touchdowns and ran for one more on his way to earning NSIC Player of the Week. 

For the Beavers, the offense is led by quarterback Brandon Alt. The freshman has thrown for over 3,500 yards on the year with a whopping 43 touchdowns, the most in the NSIC. Brendan Beaulieu is his favorite target through the air, with 62 catches for 1,10        

Bemidji State’s defense ranks ninth in the NSIC, giving up 420.9 yards per game. They give up 30.2 points per game average, a number that puts them at eighth in the NSIC. 

The time of kickoff for the game is still yet to be determined, but the Vikings will be ready to go when the ball comes off the tee. 

“We still haven’t played our best game,” Olszewski said. “Chasing perfection is what we’re about, but we’ll settle on excellence.”

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