KEY CLASSIC! Sioux Falls regains Key To The City with dramatic win over Augustana

Coo beat Vikings 28-26, their seventh victory in nine Division Two meetings
Published: Oct. 2, 2021 at 7:11 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The “Key to the City” is back home at the University of Sioux Falls.

With a come-from-behind 28-26 victory, USF Football Team (3-2, 3-2 NSIC) defeated No. 14 Augustana (4-1, 4-1 NSIC) on Saturday before 5,726 in attendance at Bob Young Field on Cougar Day/Hall of Fame game. It was USF’s seventh win in nine game in the “Key to the City” series that dates back to 2012 (32-31 double overtime win for USF). The Cougars knocked off a ranked opponent for the first time since a 26-7 win over No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth on August 31 in Duluth, Minn.

Today, USF held the lead for most of the game before the Vikings took a 24-21 lead late. Then, USF redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Mullen connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Dominic Pegley for a 28-24 lead. On the ensuing Augustana possession, the USF defense stood up and had a big play as junior defensive back Gio Purpurra intercepted Kyle Saddler and after USF took a safety, they had returned the “Key” to USF.

USF Head Coach Jon Anderson was elated about his team’s resiliency and performance after a tough loss a week ago.

“We fed off the great homecoming crowd that was here to help us. We get to get a Key to the City win on our home field and that is exciting. It is exciting for those fans and alumni that came out, for the players who worked so hard all week and for the coaching staff,” said Anderson, who is now 27-13 in his fifth year at the helm of USF. He is now 3-1 in the “Key to the City” series with an overall scoring differential of 113-to-71.

With the victory, USF is now 3-2 in home “Key to the City” games and stand 4-0 in game played at AU’s Kirkeby-Over Stadium.

For Anderson, the key to the game today was staying focused on the task and taking care of the controllables.

“This was truly a great game. I think that we had to block out some noise about last week’s loss and we had to believe in ourselves,” said Anderson. “Our guys don’t believe they are underdogs in any game they play and showed that today. It came down the end like we thought it would and we did what we needed too. The ‘Key’ means a lot and now is in its rightful home,” he said.

Three USF seniors – Harvey EnallsTy Smith and Joey Wehrkamp – echoed Anderson’s thoughts. Each of them have been part of the series since 2017 and now stand 3-1 in the city rivalry.

“This wins means everything. When we play this game, it doesn’t matter game or circumstance. It is going to be a charged-up atmosphere,” said Enalls. “Growing up in this city and knowing how this game means so much, we were focused coming in,” added Enalls, who had three tackles and now has 153 career tackles at USF. “That is a good team over there (Augustana) but we couldn’t afford to lose and I think this gives us confidence moving forward,” he said.

Senior wide receiver Ty Smith had seven catches for 76 yards as he stepped up in this rivalry matchup.

“We were really focused on getting it done. We knew it would be close hard-fought game and had to find a way to bring the ‘Key’ home,” he said.

And, Wehrkamp may have captured it best: “the ‘Key to the City’ game is one of the biggest games on the schedule every year. We came together as a team today. We had a great game plan and we executed it well. We knew this would be a game of momentum and we were focused on keeping to going on our side for as long as possible.”

For the second city rivalry game in a row, the team with the most yardage didn’t come up with a victory. In 2019, USF outgained the Vikings, 319-to-139. This year, the Vikings had 373 yards in total offense on 79 plays (4.7 avg.) while USF totaled 256 yards on 66 plays with a 3.9 average. While USF gained just five yards rushing on 30 attempts, they found success in the passing game as Mullen connected on 26-of-36 passes for 251 yards with three TDs.

USF’s receiving corps was led by Pegley, who had eight catches on 10 targets for 74 yards and the 26-yard TD. Aside from Smith, tight end Hunter Schneider had three receptions for 34 yards and his first receiving TD. USF also had a stellar gain from Seamus Hall as he punted seven times for 296 yards or an average of 42.3with a long of 58 yards and three punts inside the 20-yard line.

Senior defensive back Dorian Fedrick had a career-high with nine tackles, including seven solo stops a pass breakup and TFO. Senior Nate Durfee added seven solo tackles, which tied a career best (Northern State, 35-13 win, 2019). Also Carter Lohr had a career high with six stops and David Vargas led the defensive line with six tackles. Scoring Summary – After Augustana was held on their first possession, the Cougars drove the ball 65 yards in 11 plays for an opening score of the game. Mullen connected with Schneider on a 17-yard pitch and catch and with Nick Hernandez’s first of four successful conversions, the Cougars took a 7-0 lead. Late in the first quarter, the Vikings answered when Jarrod Epperson, who had 20 carries for 148 rushing yards and two TDs, scored on a 25-yard run to cap a 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive and tied the game at 7-7. Early in the second quarter, USF’s answered as the special teams created its fourth scoring opportunity of the year. After forcing a mistake by AU in the punt game, USF took over at the 11-yard line. Three plays later, Jacqueze Lockett had his first of a career-best two-TD game with a six-yard reception from Mullen at the 8:10 mark as USF built a 14-7 lead. The Vikings tied the game with 1:33 to play in the second quarter as Epperson had a 42-yard TD run. Then, USF responded immediately by driving 75 yards in 11 plays as Lockett’s two-yard TD run with six seconds to play in the half gave the Cougars a 21-14 lead at the break. In the third quarter, AU had the only score when Kyle Saddler, who completed 20-of-44 passes for 212 yards, scored on a one-yard run to draw the score even at 21-21. Early in the fourth quarter, Ben Limburg hit on a 41-yard field goal as the Vikings led for the first time at 24-21. Down four late, the Cougars answered the bell. With a two minute and 12 second scoring drive that covered 63 yards in five plays, Mullen’s pass to Pegley gave USF a 28-24 lead with 2:53 to play. On AU’s ensuing possession, the Cougars stopped the Vikings when Gio Purpurra intercepted Saddler’s pass at the USF 30-yard line. Then, USF ran the clock down to seven seconds before Hall stepped out of the end zone in punt formation for a safety to cut the lead to 28-26. The Cougars then squibbed the kick and when the Vikings’ Kevin Hartman fell on it, the clock had run out. The Vikings were out of time and the Cougars raced to the end zone to collect the “Key to the City” trophy and begin their post-game celebration with its seventh win in nine meetings with Augustana in the Division II era.

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