The Vikings were unable to finish a late comeback in the Key to the City game on Oct. 1.
No. 11 nationally ranked Augustana moved to 4-1 on the season after falling 31-24 to the University of Sioux Falls last Saturday at Kirkeby Over Stadium.
With 10:03 remaining in the game, USF senior running back Thuro Reisdorfer broke free for a 58-yard touchdown to make the score 31-10 Cougars.
The Vikings then went on a 5-play, 77-yard drive, capped off by a 25-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Casey Bauman to junior wide receiver Devon Jones.
After a quick stop, the Vikings answered with another touchdown. Bauman found freshman wide receiver Isaiah Huber in the endzone for a 26-yard touchdown that capped off a 7-play, 62-yard drive.
The defense stepped up again to give the offense the ball back on their own 13-yard line and 2:42 left in the game.
However, the Cougar defense ultimately prevailed, forcing a turnover-on-downs near midfield, which gave them the win. The loss snaps a regular-season-home-unbeaten streak that extends all the way back to 2018.
“Super proud of our kids and the grit and how they fought against a good football team,” coach Jerry Olszewski said. “Offensively, we played better than we had been playing, we moved the ball, and we sprayed the ball around the field. Obviously, we hate losing, but these kids battled like crazy and fought through adversity. They battled.”
Olszewski emphasized the importance of turnovers in rivalry games like this.
The Vikings were unable to win the turnover battle in the game. They lost two fumbles, turning into 10 points for the Cougars on the ensuing drives.
Another key shift in the game came early on. The Cougars scored first to make for 7-0 in the first quarter. Augustana got the ball with 6:02 remaining in the first and were able to drive all the way down to the USF 12-yard line with 13:04 left in the second quarter. The Vikings were then faced with a 4th-and-1 decision. After already missing a field goal, Olszewski and the Vikings chose to go for it and try to tie the game instead. The Cougars defense stepped up and stopped a David Addo run before he could get to the first down.
“It’s a call that I’d take again,” Olszewski said, “I just felt like we had to match scores today in order to have a fourth quarter game to get it done. That’s the way it would have played out.”
Bauman threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with junior wide receiver Jack Fisher in the second quarter to tie the game 7-7. On the ground, the Vikings totaled 112 rushing yards, with sophomore Tate Johnson leading the way with 52.
The Vikings will look to bounce back against the Upper Iowa Peacocks next week. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. in Fayette.
“I’m excited for the future of this football team,” Olszewski said. “Our goal now is to win every one that we line up.”