No. 25 Augustana went 88 yards on three plays in just 33 seconds to take a 31-28 lead with 1:54 remaining in the game before Northern State tied it with a 21-yard field goal with 11 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Wolves hit a 33-yard field goal in their possession of overtime before Trey Heid hit Matt Heller in the back of the end zone to lift the Vikings to a 37-34 win over the Wolves in the season opener.
The Vikings have now won 10 of their last 11 season openers, including eight of their last nine since joining the NSIC in 2008. The overtime win improved Augustana to 5-7 all-time in overtime games. Augustana's last overtime game was its home opener in 2014, a 23-22 loss to Minnesota Duluth on Sept. 13, 2014.
Both teams finished the game with over 400 yards of offense. Augustana put up 440 yards of offense, including 253 yards through the air and 187 on the ground.
Heid was 24 of 42 passing for 253 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 64 yards on 12 carries. Heller hauled in eight passes for 127 yards and a touchdown, marking his ninth career 100-plus yard receiving game.
Augustana was able to run the ball effectively with sophomore Caden Quintanilla and junior Jackie Davis splitting the carries. Quintanilla rushed 14 times for 72 yards and a touchdown while also catching five passes for 34 yards and a score. Davis finished the contest with 52 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Kirby Hora led the Viking defense with a career-high 16 tackles, including eight solo stops and 1.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore Matt Wagner also posted a career-high in tackles finishing with 11 and two forced fumbles.
Augustana's defense posted three quarterback sacks on the day. Alec Blonquist, Bryson Hamilton and Jordan Meyer each had a sack for the Vikings.
After punting on its first two possessions, Augustana got on the board first when Jackie Davis dove into the end zone from one yard out to put the Vikings in front 7-0 with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter.
The Vikings faced third down and five from the Northern State 49-yard line when Heid scrambled to his left for a 31-yard gain to the NSU 18-yard line. Davis nearly scored on the next play picking up a 17-yard gain up the middle before he plunged into the end zone for his first score of the season on the very next play.
Northern State responded on the very next driving going 79 yards on eight plays ending with a 28-yard touchdown run by Christian McAlvain to tie the game at 7-7 with 45 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Augustana was forced to punt on its next possession but the defense got the Viking offense back on the field quickly forcing the Wolves to go three-and-out. The offense then put together nearly a four-minute drive that ended with Quintanilla's first career touchdown. The Vikings moved methodically down the field before Quintanilla caught a swing pass in the end zone to put the Vikings in front 14-7 with 8:46 to go in the first half.
Both team's defensive units held strong throughout the first half. After the Vikings took the lead they were forced to punt twice and threw one interception while the Augustana defense forced Northern State to punt three times.
Augustana finished the first half rushing for 147 yards on 22 carries using a tandem running back combination. Quintanilla rushed for 52 yards on nine carries and Davis added 44 yards on eight carries. Heid also picked up some yards with his feet, rushing for 51 yards on five attempts.
Augustana had 185 yards of total offense in the first half with 38 passing yards. Nothern State finished with 204 yards of offense, picking up 141 yards on the ground and 63 through the air.
The Viking defense picked up where it left off in the first half forcing Northern State three-and-out on its first possession of the second half leading to an Augustana score. Heid led the Vikings on a 10-play 70-yard drive ending with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Matt Fujinami that gave Augustana a 21-7 lead. The touchdown catch by Fujinami marked the first of his career.
Augustana defense kept the pressure on and forced the Wolves to punt after Zac Johnson put the pressure on McAlvain and Keyvion Mayhan came up with a pass breakup on NSU's next possession. The Vikings were unable to capitalize as the Wolves intercepted their second pass of the game at Augustana's 15-yard line.
NSU scored six plays later to get within a touchdown after McAlvain connected with Conner Doherty for a 10-yard touchdown to make the score 21-14 with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
Northern State then forced the Vikings to go three-and-out on their next possession and used a big play to get into Viking territory before scoring on a 12-yard touchdown run by Nicholas Truen to tie the game at 21-21 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Augustana responded with a long drive on its next possession to regain the lead on a 41-yard field goal by Lucas Wainman. The Vikings went for the end zone on first down and Jake Bartscher nearly came up with a diving grab in the back of the end zone. NSU came up with a sack on third down and 13 forcing the field goal attempt and Wainman drilled the 41-yard attempt to regain the lead at 24-21 with 9:01 to play.
NSU chipped away on the ensuing drive going 62 yards on nine plays in 3:30 to take its first lead of the day on a seven-yard touchdown run by McAlvain. McAlvain's second rushing score of the game gave his team a 28-24 lead with just over five minutes to play.
Following the Northern State score, Heid and Heller connected on two straight passes of 40-plus yards to put the Vikings at the two-yard line. Starting at their own 12-yard line, the Vikings marched down the field after a 40-yard completion from Heid to Heller and on the next play, Heid found Heller for a 46-yard connection to set up first and goal from the two-yard line. Quintanilla went untouched into the end zone to put Augustana back in front 31-28 with 1:54 to play.
The Wolves used three big pass plays to get into Augustana territory but the Viking defense wouldn't break holding NSU to a 21-yard field goal attempt with just 11 seconds to play. NSU's Nathan Shaw split the uprights to send the game into overtime.
Augustana's defense came up with another timely stand forcing NSU to another field goal and after a pass interference call in the end zone moved the Vikings within striking distance, Heid found Heller in the back of the end zone for the game-clinching touchdown pass to give Augustana a 37-34 win in its season opener.
Augustana returns to action next Saturday traveling to Bismarck, North Dakota to take on the University of Mary at 1 p.m.