SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Two of the top defenses in the Northern Sun Conference will cross paths on Saturday, when Northern State makes the three hour trip south to Sioux Falls, to play Augustana.
Saturday’s game will air on KELOXTRA, the CW of the Black Hills and KELOLAND.com. You can watch at the link above
Northern State is fresh off a win over Minnesota State Mankato, where the Wolves found a way to pull out a narrow 23-22 win.
“Last year, we didn’t win those games and we found a way to lose those games. Now this year, the next iteration of that is that we’re able to find a win,” Northern head coach Mike Schmidt said. “The next part is cleaning that up and focusing on all the little things and the fundamentals of football. That’s really what our staff, our team has been obsessed with this week.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback, Will Madler entered the game after the team’s first two offensive possessions, replacing starting QB, Michael Bonds. Madler would get the offense rolling as they put up 20 points in the middle two quarters.
“Will just gave us those things that, somebody just comes out in those games and emerges and plays really, really well,” Schmidt said. “We’re certainly going to ride the hot hand with Will and probably see both those guys as the year goes on.”
Northern State sealed the win Saturday with an interception, but they’re no stranger to forcing turnovers. The Wolves defense leads the NSIC with six interceptions.
“We’re really on pace with what we’re engineered to do,” Schmidt said. “It certainly starts up front, but the guys in the backend have been really sharp with what we’re doing and they’ve played really well.”
Northern’s opponent, Augustana, enters this week with an undefeated record. The Vikings cruised past MSU Moorhead 31-7, to become just one of three teams in the NSIC with a 3-0 record.
“I like where we’re at. I like where we’re growing. I think that we did some really good things and then we know what we’ve got to improve on to make sure we’re getting to become the football program we need to be,” Augustana head coach Jerry Olszewski said.
Sophomore quarterback and former Brandon Valley standout, Thomas Scholten made his first start in Moorhead, replacing an injured Casey Bauman.
“I think he’s doing a great job at not only managing our offense, but also understanding where to put the ball and what to get in and out of on certain plays,” Olszewski said. “He continues to get better. I think he’s understanding the fact that we’ve got a lot of weapons and guys that are there to help him.”
The Vikings and Wolves both own a top ten rushing defense in the country, which means running the ball may be a challenge come Saturday.
“I think that a big part of this game is going to be the front seven on both sides of the ball. Where you say that, there are explosive plays in every game,” Olszewski said. “They’ve had some big ones, created some defensively and certainly have had their own offensively and so have we.”
Both universities understand that Saturday’s game will be a battle and that just adds to the anticipation of this in-state matchup.
“This is going to be an awesome college football game. I think it’s going to be incredibly physical. If you like hard hitting and good defense, then you’d better get your butts down to Sioux Falls on Saturday, because this thing is going to be two really good teams up front on each side,” Schmidt said. “Two really good front sevens that are just crashing into each other for sixty minutes.”
“I’m excited for this game. I think we need this game right now. We need to play a really quality opponent, in a great atmosphere. Our kids need to be challenged and be up for the challenge, because it’s going to be a good football game,” Olszewski said.
The Vikings and Wolves will cross paths on Saturday, September 24 in Sioux Falls. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. and you can watch the game on KELOXTRA, the CW of the Black Hills and KELOLAND.com.
Play-by-play will be provided by JJ Hartigan, with color commentary from KELOLAND.com’s Grant Sweeter.