Augie Takes Back Key to City With 20-13 Win Over USF
Augie Takes Back Key to City With 20-13 Win Over USF
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The key is back at Augustana. The Vikings football team prevailed 20-13 over rival Sioux Falls Thursday night at Bob Young Field in the Key to the City game.
Senior quarterback Zach Masoli scampered two yards into the end zone early in the fourth quarter to break a 13-13 tie. With the point-after from Luis Guarita, the 20-13 score would hold to bring the key back to the Augustana campus for the first time since 2015.
“It’s important for our program to get this win,” head coach Jerry Olszewski said. “Our kids have worked so hard for it. It’s time.”
The game-winning touchdown was a short-lived 2-yard, 5-second drive, set up by a bad snap on a Cougar punt attempt. The snap sailed over the head of Thomas Chapin where he tried bringing the ball out of the end zone and was brought down at the two-yard line by Sam Roble.
Masoli, who entered the game the previous series that ended with a Guarita 32-yard field goal, scored the second rushing touchdown of his career.
The Augustana defense pressured the Cougars to just 38 yards rushing on 46 attempts and sacked quarterback Caden Walters seven times for 55 yards. The first sack of the game came on the third play of the contest when junior Logan Swanson had a strip-sack. Sophomore Grayson Diepenbrock recovered the ball and returned it to the Cougars five-yard line to set up true-freshman Jarod Epperson for his first-career touchdown.
Late in the first quarter, Sioux Falls scored on a two-yard rush but trailed 7-6 after the point-after attempt failed.
Guarita split the uprights on a 37-yard field goal into the wind to push the Vikings ahead 10-7 early in the second quarter, a score that would hold through intermission.
Sioux Falls appeared to seize some momentum midway through the third quarter when Walters connected with Thuro Reisdorfer for a 25-yard touchdown, giving the Cougars their first lead of the game at 13-10.
Augustana, looking for its own momentum, forced its second fumble of the game when Kenneth Griffin pulled the ball loose from Nate Johnson, with Kyle Theis falling on it at the Sioux Falls 21-yard line. That’s when Masoli entered, setting up Guarita for the game-tying 32-yard field goal, and minutes later, the game-winning touchdown.
The ending wasn’t without drama as Sioux Falls started chewing time off the clock on a 15-play, 65-yard drive and threatening to score with under five minutes on the clock. However, sophomore Eli Weber had other thoughts, picking off his third pass of the season in the Cougars end zone. Weber now leads the NSIC with three interceptions while the Vikings have totaled eight through four games.
Augustana took nearly three minutes off the clock, giving the ball back to Sioux Falls with 1:51 remaining but again relied on a sack and a fourth-down stop to seal the game.
Masoli did not attempt a pass but quickly rushed for 24 yards while Epperson tallied 47. Epperson was also the team’s top receiver with two catches for 39 yards.
But the story of the game was the defense with 11 tackles for loss, and the seven sacks. Reigning NSIC Defensive Player of the Week T.J. Liggett led the team with 10 tackles while adding a sack. Swanson tallied eight tackles and two sacks while Diepenbrock had four tackles and two sacks.
“We liked our matchups in the game,” Olszewski added. “We talked about being a more physical football team to win games like this. We prepared ourselves for that and thought the team executed and we were physical enough to win the game.”
Augustana begins cross-division action on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Bemidji State. Kickoff from Bemidji, Minnesota, is slated for 2 p.m.
SIOUX FALLS – While the University of Sioux Falls (2-2, 2-2 NSIC) defense dominated and the offense held a 319-to-139 edge in total offense, mistakes hurt as the Cougars suffered a heart-breaking 20-13 loss to Augustana (3-1, 3-1 NSIC) in the “Key to the City” matchup at Bob Young Field.
While USF holds a 6-2 lead in the “Key to the City” series, both losses have surprisingly occurred at Bob Young Field where the Cougars hold a 70-10 overall record since the stadium opened in 2007. USF lost in 2015, 35-28, and lost by seven points on Thursday night. For the second time this year, the Cougars dropped a game played on Thursday night.
“We made some mistakes that proved costly,” said USF Head Coach Jon Anderson. “I felt like we moved the ball on them, especially through the air. Defensively, we were very solid and held them in check both on the ground and through the air,” he said.
If someone picked up a stat sheet and saw the results, the final score would be a bit of a surprise. USF had a 25-to-8 edge in first downs and a 281-to-78 margin in passing yards. The Cougars held the Vikings to 61 yards rushing on 29 carries and allowed just four of 14 conversions on third down. Still, USF had the lowest total yards on offense at home since a loss to Minnesota State late in the year in 2015 and three turnovers proved costly.
Senior quarterback Caden Walters led USF’s offense with 27 completions on 38 attempts for 281 yards with an interception and a touchdown pass. He set a personal best with 27 completions and his 38 attempts is also a high in his career. As for his yardage total, it ranks second to 283 yards against Upper Iowa in 2018.
Led by Walters, USF controlled the ball throughout with a 38:28-21:32 time of possession advantage over the Vikings.
Leading USF’s receiving corps was senior Nate Johnson, who caught a career-high 10 passes for 82 yards. Junior wide out Karnell Collier also had a career-best with eight catches for 89 yards as he has had at least 89 yards in each of his last three games. In addition, senior tight end Clint Sigg hauled in four catches for 57 yards. USF’s rushing attack, which produced just 38 yards on 46 attempts, was led by Thuro Reisdorfer with 17 carries for 50 yards. Reisdorfer also had a 25-yard TD catch as he scored his NSIC-leading seventh TD of the year.
On defense, the Cougars held the Vikings to 78 total yards and junior quarterback Kyle Saddler was able to complete just six of his 22 pass attempts. As a result, USF held an opponent to the lowest passing output this year. For the third straight game, USF held a rushing attack in check. In fact, in the last three games, USF has allowed just 116 rushing yards in 76 carries for 1.52 yards per carry. Over the length of this season, USF has allowed just 272 yards on 121 carries for 2.24 yards per carry.
USF was led defensively by junior linebacker Harvey (Michael) Enalls with six tackles (four solo stops) and a fumble recovery. USF had four tackles from Brody Grantham, Ryan Nieman and Logan Dykstra.
Game Breakdown –
Early on, the Vikings took advantage of a USF fumble as Logan Swanson sacked Walters and forced a fumble which was recovered by Grayson Diepenbrock at the USF five-yard line. On third and goal, Jarod Epperson scored on a one-yard TD run to give Augustana a 7-0 lead with 11:07 to play in the first quarter.
The tables were turned later in the quarter when Enalls recovered a fumble by Saddler at the Augustana 41-yard line. USF moved the ball 41 yards on seven plays with Walters scoring his third rushing TD of the season. However, a bad snap result in a failed extra point as the Cougars trailed 7-6 with 3:33 left in the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, Augustana had its longest drive of the game as they moved the ball 51 yards in 10 plays and used 4:28 before Luis Guarita connected on a 37-yard field goal for a 10-6 Vikings lead. It was the only score of the second quarter.
After the break, USF gained their first lead of the game with a scoring drive of 64 yards on four plays. Reisdorfer caught a career-first 25-yard TD pass from Walters and with Daniel Esparza’s extra point, USF had a 13-10 lead.
AU was able to forge a tie late in the third quarter when Kenneth Griffin forced a fumble by USF’s Johnson and recovered by AU’s Kyle Theis at the 21-yard line. However, the Vikings were unable to move the ball and settled for a 32-yard field goal from Luis Guarita with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Augustana had two of their seven sacks on the night and forced USF into a punting situation. However, the snap went over punter Thomas Chapin’s head and he tried to run the ball out of danger but was tackled at the USF two-yard line. One play later, AU quarterback Zach Masoli scored on a two-yard run for a 20-13 lead.
After that, USF had a couple of drives, including one that ended deep in Augustana territory when Eli Weber intercepted Walters’ pass in the end zone. With their final possession, USF moved the ball to midfield before their drive stalled and the Cougars suffered their second loss of the season.
Next for USF will be the Cougars Day game on Oct. 5 against U-Mary at Bob Young Field.