SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Augustana kicker Luis Guarita made a 35-yard field goal to push the Vikings to a 16-13 overtime win over St. Cloud State on Viking Days Saturday.
The field goal was the third of the day for the sophomore, who also connected on a pair of 27-yard hits in a swirling wind gusting at 20 mph and Kirkeby-Over Stadium looking like a snow globe with snow flurries throughout much of the day.
Augustana improves to 4-2 overall while St. Cloud State, of the NSIC North Division, falls to 3-3 on the year. Augustana improves to 8-3 inside Kirkeby-Over Stadium on its homecoming game.
"I love the fact that our kids were gritty enough to find a way to win this game," head coach Jerry Olszewski said. "There were a lot of opportunities that could have went the other way, especially right before halftime. We met up and talked that it wasn't going to happen. That we just need to take it one snap at a time, one series at a time and this was a gritty win."
Guarita's second field goal of the day came with 1:20 remaining in the contest, completing a 9-play, 54-yard drive to give Augustana a 13-10 lead. However, St. Cloud State answered back on a 10-play, 43-yard drive when Adam Stage sent a 37-yard field goal through the uprights to force overtime.
The Vikings won the toss and chose to play defense on the opening overtime possession. The Huskies ran two plays, an incomplete pass, then had a missed exchange on a handoff, which was fumbled and recovered by senior Jake Denn.
The Vikings then ran three plays before deferring to Guarita for the field goal, which split the uprights and sent the Vikings' sideline into a frenzy. The game-winning field goal is the first in overtime for Augustana since Oct. 4, 2008, a win over Minnesota State.
The game got off to a slow start offensively with a scoreless first quarter. Just past the midway point of the second quarter, junior Kyle Saddler connected with senior Jake Welsheimer for a 25-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead. The drive, which took seven plays and spanned 70 yards, was set up by a 38-yard rush by senior Zach Masoli.
With Saddler and Masoli switching off in the middle of the drive, Saddler's toss came on a fourth-and-4 play.
St. Cloud found the end zone with just 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter when Curtwan Evans plunged across the goal line from five yards out.
The kickers from each team then traded field goals, first Guarita from 27 yards out with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter, then Stage early in the fourth quarter from 30 yards out. That set up the final field goals that forced overtime.
The Augustana defense held St. Cloud State to just 23 yards rushing while Dwayne Lawhorn totaled 184 yards passing. The Vikings got to him for a pair of sacks totaling 10 yards. Overall, the Vikings totaled 10 tackles for loss and recovered two fumbles.
Offensively, Saddler threw for 192 yards and a touchdown, while Masoli was 2-of-3 for 15 yards passing. Junior Rudolh Sinflorant tallied 58 yards rushing while freshman Jarod Epperson had 42 yards on the ground. Junior Sean Engel totaled six receptions for 64 yards while Welsheimer totaled three receptions for 61 yards and the touchdown.
The Vikings' last overtime victory came on Sept. 16, 2017, a 30-27 win over Bemidji State and have now won three-straight overtime contests.
Augustana continues cross-division action at MSU Moorhead on Saturday. Kickoff from Scheels Field at Nemzek Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.