#12 USF Wins Back “Key to the City” with 35-20 Win Over #25 Augustana
SIOUX FALLS – With purpose and relentlessness, the #12 University of Sioux Falls Football Team (5-0, 1-0 NSIC South) improved to 5-0 and brought back the "Key to the City" to Bob Young Field after a convincing 35-20 road win over city rival and #24 Augustana (3-2, 0-1 South) on Saturday afternoon at Kirkeby-Over Stadium.
Before the second largest crowd (7,115) to attend a USF-Augustana matchup, the Cougars jumped to a 21-0 lead, held off a Vikings second quarter run and finished with another solid second half to earn its fourth victory in five "Key to the City" games. Interesting, USF has won all three games play at Augustana and just the 2013 win by USF (27-10) at Bob Young Field was won by a home team.
In capturing their fifth straight win to open the season, USF retained its hold at top of the NSIC and in the process unleashed its offensive juggernaut while playing steady, bend-but-not-break defense. USF, which ranked second nationally in total offense at 569.5 per game, churned out 562 yards, including a nearly perfect balance of 282 on the ground and 280 through the air. As for the USF defense, they gave up 402 yards in offense but held the league's highest scoring team to half their average output with just 20, including a late TD. They also had a season-best six sacks, along with seven TFLs, two interceptions and four pass breakups. The Vikings managed just 109 rushing yards on 35 carries for just 3.1 yards per rush.
"I am so proud of this team who showed tremendous focus and energy today," said Jed Stugart, whose team picked up its 420 all-time win and opened the NSIC South slate with a victory over a nationally ranked opponent. "From the start, they showed the ability to keep moving the ball and stopping the Vikings in some key moments. We have fantastic balance in our rush and pass games," said Stugart.
Leading the way for USF, which was ranked #6 in the NCAA DII Power Rankings this week, was two-time Harlon Hill candidate Luke Papilion, who completed 22-of-30 passes for 280 yards and two TDs and also rushed for 41 yards on 13 carries with a TD. With 321 yards in total offense, Papilion set a new USF all-time record in total offense with 10,662, moving past Dax Michelena (1997-2001), who had 10,410. In addition, he also became USF's all-time passing lead with 7,748 yards.
Leading the ground attack was junior running back Max Mickey, who had 20 carries for 140 yards and two TDs. His running mate in the backfield, senior Justin Folks added eight carries for 81 yards as USF averaged 6.3 yards per carry. USF's receiving corps had a big day with senior Brady Rose going past 2,000 receiving yards for his career with seven catches for 91 yards. He now has 2,078 yards for his career with 155 career catches, which moves him up to sixth all-time (Trey Erickson, 151, 2004-07). Senior Josh Angulo, who was named the NSIC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, had another solid day, with seven catches for 80 yards and a TD. He now has 2,458 career receiving yards (5th all-time) and 179 career receptions. Also for USF tight end Nicholas Stanke had four catches for 25 yards while junior wide out Kyle Groeneweg had 148 all-purpose yards, including two catches for 80 receiving yards and a career-best 56-yard TD reception.
The defense was led by senior linebacker Michael Mehling, who used his speed and power to disrupt the Vikings' offense all day. He had a career high 11 tackles with 2.5 sacks and 2.5 TFLs. Senior Cliff Redmond came up with a pair of key interceptions which halted Augustana drives deep in USF territory. Jeffrey Harman, who was the NSIC Defensive Player of the Week, had eight tackles and two pass breakups while Kyle Campiotti had seven tackles.
Neither offense generated any points until USF broke through with an eight-play, 67-yard scoring drive in 2:53 as Papilion scored his 10th TD of the season on a three-yard run with 7:50 to play. Four minutes later, USF struck again by its quick strike route. At the 3:02 mark, Papilion connected with Groeneweg on a 56-yard TD pass as the Cougars took a 14-0 lead.
With the defense continuing to hold Augustana in check, the USF offense found the end zone again early in the second quarter. After getting the ball back at their own two-yard line, USF produced the first of three 90-plus scoring drives, With Mickey scoring from 18 yards, USF drove a season-high 98 yards in 11 plays and used 3:50 off the clock for a 21-0 advantage, which was not only USF's largest margin but the largest edge by either team in the "Key to the City" series.
Still, the home standing Vikings had an answer and scored a pair of TDs over a four-minute period. First, Charlie Hayes hauled in a seven-yard TD pass from Heid as the Vikings drew within 21-6 when Augie's Lucas Wainman missed the extra point. Then after USF's offense stalled, the Vikings' special teams came up big. A blocked punt set up Augie at the USF 17-yard line. Four plays later, Nathan Merriman caught a three-yard TD pass from Heid, who was 24-of-44 for 293 yards with two TDs and two interceptions, as the Vikings cut the margin to 21-13.
To have a halftime edge usually means victory for USF. When the Cougars hold a lead at the break, they are 55-3. But USF, which had a 69-10 advantage in the third quarter coming into the Augustana game, didn't sustain any drives until late in the quarter. But the Vikings were also held off the board. With just under five minutes to play in the quarter, USF took off on a 10-play, 90-yard scoring drive which took 4:37 off the clock. Angulo's 16-yard TD reception from Papilion provided the Cougars with a 28-13 lead with just 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
Then, another USF 90-yard drive, which took eight plays, midway through the fourth quarter put the game on ice. With 8:25 to play, Mickey broke free from a number of tackles and scored on a 42-yard run for a 35-13 lead. The Vikings added their final points on an 11-yard TD run by Caden Quintanilla at the 5:33 mark but USF ran the clock down to a minute before turning it over on downs to the Vikings deep in Augustana territory.
As the final seconds ticked down, senior Josh Angulo and others were ready to sprint to the south end zone where the "Key to the City" was located. Asked just before the final seconds if he was ready to get the key, he said, "Absolutely, I can't wait, we are ready to get it," said Angulo. Ready might be the way to describe their play all day against their city rivals down the street.
Next for USF will be a game with Southwest Minnesota State (4-1) on Cougars Homecoming at 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8 at Bob Young Field.
*** Information provided via Dan Genzler and the USF Athletic Department