SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Augustana has secured a spot in the college football playoffs for the first time since 2015, though the path back to the postseason has been anything but ordinary.
Augustana was fresh off its first win over rival USF in four years, and looked to improve to 4-1 at Bemidji State. But, a Beavers’ touchdown and go-ahead 2-point conversion with five seconds remaining sent the Vikings home with their second loss of the season.
“After Bemidji we just recommitted to the process. Bemidji was a tough loss for us. Instead of backing down and giving up, we just bought back in, and recommitted, and came to work every single day,” Senior Wide Receiver Drew Reinschmidt said.
With no room for error, Augie closed the regular season with six straight wins, including an overtime victory over St. Cloud State, and last minute victories over both Concordia-St. Paul and Winona State.
“They never stopped believing, and that’s a sign of a good football team. You know it really is. You find a way to win, find a way to win, and you play together. It’s been humbling to continue to coach these guys, and we’re not done yet,” Head Coach Jerry Olszewski said.
In its game at Winona State, Augie lost quarterback Kyle Saddler to injury, so in stepped Zach Masoli, who led the Vikings to victory over the Warriors. He followed up that performance with a 4 touchdown effort in the team’s regular season finale.
“I’m so happy for Zach. He knew Kyle was the guy, and he’s always been there supporting him, and now Kyle’s there supporting Zach. It’s just who we are,” Olszewski said.
Pushing through all that adversity has Augustana back in the playoffs for the first time in four years, and ready to make some noise.
“We’re not satisfied. That’s the thing. That’s why we’re going to get right back at it come Monday. We’re not satisfied. We know what’s at stake come next week and we’re going to keep pushing, keep pushing through,” Senior Cornerback Kenneth Griffin said.
“I think when we play our brand of football as well as we can play, and our defense is one of the best in the nation. Offensively when we play like that, I think we can play with everybody,” Olszewski said.
Augustana will play at Colorado State Pueblo in Saturday’s first round. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 central time.