Minnesota Duluth football coach Curt Wiese said the Bulldogs installed a complex scheme for this week’s game with Augustana, but it was one that they really liked, with offensive coordinator Chase Vogler saying it might be the best they ever put together.

It showed.

Senior quarterback Garrett Olson threw for a career-high three touchdowns and ran for one more to lead Minnesota Duluth to a convincing 41-15 NSIC victory over No. 17 Augustana on a sunny 65-degree afternoon Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, before 2,554 at Malosky Stadium.

“That is as good as we’ve played in a long time,” Wiese said. “Our guys knew it would take a lot of effort today, and that started with our week of preparation. Our guys bought in and played with a lot of energy.”

The Bulldogs turned Augustana over six times on five interceptions, including two by senior defensive back Michael Kirkendoll, and a strip sack forced and recovered by senior linebacker Nate Pearson of Lake Nebagamon. UMD also got interception returns for touchdowns by safety Marcus Glodowski and linebacker Joe Kordus in the Bulldogs’ best performance of the season.

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Augustana has done an incredible job protecting the quarterback this season, only allowing a league-best four sacks in nine games, but UMD had three quarterback sacks for 23 yards Saturday.

“Our defense was phenomenal,” Wiese said. “We knew getting to the quarterback would be a challenge this week. Nobody else had really gotten pressure on their quarterback. Coach (Trey) Dill did a good job dialing up pressure, our defensive front played extremely well and our secondary stepped up and made a lot of players for us.”

With the victory, UMD (8-2), ranked No. 8 in the latest Super Region Four rankings, strengthened its playoff positioning by knocking off the Vikings (8-2), the region’s second-ranked team.

For those expecting a shootout, it didn’t happen, just a blowout as UMD led 20-7 after the first quarter and 34-7 at the half.

Olson finished 11-for-18 passing for 171 yards while adding seven carries for 76 yards in his best game as a Bulldog, with both yardage totals being career highs.

Augustana came in averaging 40.6 points per game but appeared baffled offensively against UMD. Vikings quarterback Kyle Saddler finished 16-for-33 passing for 211 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions.

“We didn’t play good football,” Augustana coach Jerry Olszewski said. “Too many turnovers and huge plays flipped the game, things you can’t do if you want to stay close, especially against a talented team like that.

“With that said, I’m proud of how our guys responded in the second half. We moved the football and pitched a shutout defensively. You’ve got to take positives out of moments like this, but the real truth is you can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to win football games.”

While UMD’s defense was stellar, Olson perhaps turned out to be the biggest surprise. The 6-foot, 192-pounder from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who played his high school ball at Minnetonka, was superb in directing the Bulldogs’ offense while making all kinds of plays by himself, including a 51-yard touchdown run on a draw play to cap the first-half scoring.

On that play, it was as if Olson was Moses parting the Red Sea.

“That was a lot of fun,” Olson said, all smiles afterward. “That run was crazy. They gave us the look to do it, and we went for it. The offensive line did a great job up front. They allowed that play to happen, parting the sea. They did a great job creating the crease and then there was nobody there. So instead of sliding for 10, I said, ‘Hey, why not?’ I kept going.

“Honestly, I haven’t run that far in a game since high school. I was gassed … just a great team win; really exciting.”

Watching Olson play Saturday, it was hard to believe he is UMD’s third-stringer, and that bodes well going into next week’s regular-season finale at home against Northern State (7-3).

Wiese said Olson will start next week as the Bulldogs continue to deal with injuries to starter John Larson and backup Logan Graetz.

“Garrett is a seasoned backup quarterback, and he’s a guy who doesn’t put a ton of pressure on himself,” Wiese said. “He’s a pretty leveled person, and he played like that today. He prepared hard, and he takes coaching well. He’s a team guy.

“You talk to him about the situation going into each week, about how much he may or may not play, and Garrett does it all with a smile on his face. There’s a lot to be said for guys on your football team who are selfless individuals who put the team before themselves, and Garrett is one of those guys. He did a great job leading us today.”

Augustana 7-0-0-8—15

Minn. Duluth 20-14-7-0—41

First Quarter

UMD — Wade Sullivan 5 pass from Garrett Olson (kick failed), 9:24

UMD — Marcus Glodowski 60 interception return (Curt Cox kick), 5:37

UMD — Noah Skifton 5 pass from Olson (Cox kick), 1:36

AUG — Devon Jones 37 pass from Kyle Saddler (Ben Limburg kick), 0:00

Second Quarter

UMD — Johnny McCormick 6 pass from Olson (Cox kick), 14:21

UMD — Olson 51 run (Cox kick), 4:11

Third Quarter

UMD — Joe Kordus 75 interception return (Cox kick), 7:57

Fourth Quarter

AUG — Safety, 4:41

AUG — Connor Neill 1 run (kick failed), :58

AUG UMD

First downs 22 13

Rushes-yards 42-108 33-112

Passing yards 224 172

Comp-Att-Int 18-36-5 12-20-1

Kick returns-yards 6-132 3-56

Punts-avg 3-31.7 5-42.0

Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-yards 5-40 7-68

Time of possession 33:03 26:47

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — AUG, Jarod Epperson 16-49, David Addo 8-38, Rudolh Sinflorant 6-19, Kyle Graham 3-16, Neill 3-6, Saddler 6-(-20). UMD, Olson 7-76, Sullivan 10-33, Cass Martin 8-10, Chamere Thomas 3-3, Byron Bynum 1-1, John Larson 1-1, Team 2-(-2), Owen Davis 1-(-10).

PASSING — AUG, Saddler 16-33-211-1, Neill 2-3-13-0. UMD, Olson 11-18-171-3, Larson 1-1-1-0, Armani Carmickle 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING — AUG, Madden Pikula 4-93, Logan Uttecht 5-54, Jones 3-52, Matt Francis 1-8, Sean Engel 1-7, Jack Fisher 1-5, Riley Zuhde 1-4, Kyle Graham 2-1. UMD, Carmickle 3-78, McCormick 3-32, Bynum 1-31, Sullivan 3-25, Skifton 1-5, Dane Lew 1-1.