SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – CJ Ham rushed for a 31-yard touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the game to lift Augustana University football to a 35-28 victory over the University of Sioux Falls to help the Vikings claim the Key to the City on Saturday afternoon at Bob Young Field. Ham rushed 29 times for 154 yards and two scores, his biggest coming with less than 30 seconds to play to lead the Vikings to victory.
The win improves Augustana’s all-time record to 19-3 all-time against USF. The Vikings are now 6-2 on the season, including 3-1 in the South Division. No. 5/4 USF dropped to 7-1 (3-1 NSIC South) with the loss. Augustana out-scored USF 28-14 in the second half. The win is Augustana’s first against a nationally ranked opponent since the Vikings defeated No. 6 Grand Valley State in the NCAA Division II Playoffs in 2010.
The Vikings finished the day with a season-high 562 yards of total offense, including a season-high 264 rushing yards.
Augustana overcame five turnovers on the day to defeat the Cougars. The Vikings threw four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and a fumble.
The Vikings finished the day rushing for a season-high 264 yards, led by Ham’s 154 yard day. Trey Heid added a career-high 106 yards on the ground to go along with two rushing touchdowns and a passing score. Heid finished the day 24 of 36 for 298 yards and a touchdown. This marks the first time at Augustana a Viking quarterback has passed for 200-plus yards and rushed for 100-plus yards in the same game since Eric DeGraff did so against South Dakota on Oct. 24, 1998.
Matt Heller caught seven passes for 133 yards, including a 49-yard yard touchdown catch. Charlie Hayes hauled in nine passes for 111 yards for his second straight 100-plus yard receiving game. Hayes has three career 100-plus yard receiving games, Heller now has six.
Augustana held USF to a season-low 411 yards of total offense on the day, including a season-low 142 rushing yards.
The Viking defense came up with big plays and big stops all day long, including multiple short-yardage situations late in the game. Kirby Hora led the Vikings with 10 tackles on the day, including nine solo stops and a tackle for loss. Chad Curry added nine tackles (seven solo) while senior Steven Miller pitched in with eight. Miller also recorded his first career interception in the second half.
After missing the first half, senior captain and linebacker Brandon Mohr finished the day with six tackles (four solo) and a tackle for loss.
The Cougars started the scoring on the afternoon on an 11-yard touchdown catch by Brady Rose with 6:45 remaining in the first quarter that put the Cougars up 7-0. The Vikings had a chance to take the first lead of the game but facing a steady and strong wind, Wainman pushed a 38-yard attempt wide right.
Just four minutes later, USF extended its lead to 14-0 on a six-yard touchdown by Max Mickey with 4:37 left in the first quarter. The Vikings responded with a long drive that went 75 yards on 11 plays and ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Ham that made the score 14-7. Ham plunged into the end zone on the first play of the second quarter for his 10th rushing touchdown of the year.
The Cougars took the ball down to Augustana’s 23-yard line on its next drive but the Viking defense would hold and turn USF over on downs.
Heid would then lead the Vikings on a 12-play 74-yard drive down to the USF three-yard line but on first and goal from the three-yard line, Heid attempted a fade to the corner of the end zone that was intercepted giving the Cougars the ball at the 20.
The Viking defense returned the favor on USF’s next drive as the Cougars went for it on fourth and five from the Viking seven yard-line and Nevin Andreas stripped the ball from Luke Papillion and the ball went out of bounds giving Augustana a chance with 4:07 remaining in the half.
Augustana got the ball to midfield before Solomon St. Pierre intercepted a pass at the USF 35 with 59 seconds remaining in the half. The Cougars were able to get the ball to midfield but ran out the clock to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Vikings struck first in the second half when Heid rushed for a four yard touchdown with 11:35 remaining in the third quarter to tie the game at 14-14. USF got the ball to start the second half and the Viking defense started with a three-and-out to set up the Vikings’ score.
After Heid picked up a big first down on a 13-yard run to the USF 36, the Cougars were called for pass interference on the next play to move the Vikings to the 21. After a 17-yard completion to Heller, Heid dove into the end zone for the first of his two rushing touchdowns on the day.
On the first play of USF’s next possession, Miller stepped in front of a Luke Papillion pass for his first career interception to give the Vikings the ball at their own 49. The Vikings didn’t get the offensive possession they would have liked and ended up punting after a sack and a false start penalty but the Vikings into a third and long situation. Augustana was forced to punt and the defense would do the same to USF on the Cougars next possession.
Three plays after the Vikings forced the Cougars to punt, Solomon St. Pierre intercepted a pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to give USF a 21-14 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter.
It didn’t take long for the Vikings to answer as five plays into the next drive, Heid hit Heller for a 49-yard touchdown that tied the game at 21 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.
Once again the Viking defense would force the Cougars to punt but on the first play of Augustana’s next drive Drew Jackson stepped in front of a Heid pass for an interception and return for a touchdown that gave the Cougars a 28-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings looked to have the equalizer on their next possession when Ham ran towards the end zone on the 11th play of a 76-yard drive but he was stripped of the ball and the Cougars recovered at their own three-yard line.
The Cougars were only able to get the ball out to the 22-yard line before punting and Heid led the Vikings on an 11-play 51-yard drive that ended with him diving head first into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game that tied the game at 28 with two minutes to play.
Augustana’s defense came up with another huge stop making the Cougars go three-and-out giving Heid and the offense the ball at their own 25-yard line with 1:16 remaining in the game.
After an eight-yard completion to Trevor DeSchepper, Heid picked up a first down with his feet on a 15-yard carry before hitting Heller for a 12-yard completion. The Vikings called a timeout with 36 seconds remaining and Heid completed a nine-yard pass to DeSchepper and he got out of bounds to the USF 31-yard line.
That’s where Ham broke through the left side of the line and saw nothing but daylight as he cruised into the end zone giving his team a 35-28 with 22 seconds to play and eventually the right to take home the Key to the City.
With the win, the Vikings also earned a point in the First Dakota National Bank Mayor’s Cup Challenge. Augustana now leads the Mayor’s Cup Challenge 4-0 on the season.
Augustana returns to Kirkeby-Over Stadium next Saturday to host Upper Iowa. Kickoff for next Saturday’s game against the Peacocks is set for 1 p.m.