Augustana falls to Bemidji State in opening round of Division II Playoffs

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AUGUSTANA) – A season that included winning the first conference championship in 62 years has come to an end for Augustana football in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. The Vikings fell 28-24 to Bemidji State Saturday afternoon inside Kirkeby-Over Stadium.

The loss snapped an 11-game home winning streak for Augustana as the Vikings conclude 2021 with a 9-3 record. Bemidji State continues on in the playoffs with a 10-2 mark.

Bemidji State struck on its opening drive, travelling 75 yards over four plays as Brendan Beaulieu caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Alt.

Augustana answered on its opening drive with a 20-yard field goal from Ben Limburg.

The Beavers would pull ahead 14-3 as they scored on a 67-yard touchdown from Alt to Malik Williams on a three-play drive.

Augustana put together a drive of eight plays, covering 68 yards on its following drive as Kyle Saddler connected with Devon Jones on an 11-yard strike for the 14-10 score.

After four drives combined between the two teams with four scores, the second quarter did not see as much action until Williams caught his second touchdown of the day as Alt found him from 19 yards out with 3:53 on the clock. Bemidji State entered halftime holding a 21-10 lead.

Augustana then had back-to-back scoring drives in the third quarter to give it its first lead of the game at 24-21. Saddler threw a five-yard touchdown to Logan Uttecht to complete a 12-play, 66-yard drive that chewed up 5:59 of game clock.

After stopping the Beavers on the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings got the ball back and went 87 yards over four plays as Kyle Graham scored on a 35-yard rush to give AU the 24-21 advantage with 4:57 left in the game.

The two teams stalled on offense until Bemidji State pieced together five plays over 68 yards to have Sam McGath rush in from two yards out for what proved to be the game-winning score with 11:36 on the clock.

Augustana outgained Bemidji State 433-413 and dominated the ground game 201-65. Jarod Epperson ended the game with 154 yards rushing as he went over the 1,000-yard mark on the season in the game. He concluded 2021 with 1,051 yards, a top-10 rushing season in AU history.

Through the air, Saddler tossed for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns as he concludes his career with 10,380 yards passing and 91 touchdowns.

Uttecht caught the ball seven times for 96 yards and his touchdown.

Defensively, Augustana was led by T.J. Liggett with seven tackles and a pass breakup. Myles Taylor intercepted his first career pass and returned in 15 yards in the second quarter.

Augustana’s nine wins are tied for the second-most in a single season, which has occurred three times. Two of those have come under head coach Jerry Olszewski.

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