BURNSVILLE, Minn. – After winning the NSIC Championship, along with the NSIC South Division, the Augustana football team racked up the postseason awards announced by the league Wednesday. Amongst the 12 players honored, Peyton Buckley has been named the NSIC Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

In all, Augustana earned nine NSIC South Division All-Conference First Team accolades while another three were named to the second team.

Buckley, hailing from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, started all 11 games at defensive back. Having sat out his true freshman season as a redshirt, he transferred to Augustana from St. Cloud State for the fall of 2020, in which the season was canceled. He was ready to play in 2021.

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He ended the regular season ranked second in the NSIC with five interceptions, ranking him 21st in the nation. He ranks third in the conference with 1.1 passes defended per game. Buckley, who is a defensive back, totaled seven games of five tackles or more while recording a season-high eight tackles at Minnesota State.

In addition to earning the NSIC Defensive Newcomer of the Year award, Buckley was named to the First Team.

Joining him on the first team from the defensive side of the ball were defensive lineman Grayson Diepenbrock, linebacker T.J. Liggett, and defensive back Eli Weber. On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Kyle Saddler, wide receiver Sean Engel, running back Jarod Epperson, and offensive linemen Trevor Burkart and Blake Larson earned the honors.

Diepenbrock led Augustana with six quarterback sacks and 13 tackles for loss in a breakout campaign. Hailing from Parker, Texas, Diepenbrock has been part of a defensive line that led the country for most of the season in the fewest rushing yards allowed.

Liggett led Augustana with 78 tackles in 2021 with 50 of them being solo. The Rosemount, Minnesota, native was named to the NSIC’s first team after earning second-team honors in 2019. This season, he totaled three games with 10 or more tackles and three more games with two or more tackles for loss.

Weber, the Vikings’ Preseason Defensive Player to Watch, totaled 57 tackles while recording two interceptions. Hailing from Dawson, Minnesota, Weber tallied a season-high four tackles for loss against Upper Iowa, totaling 21 yards. He was also a first-team honoree in 2019.

Saddler proved himself to be one of the top signal-callers in the country as he ranked sixth in NCAA Division II with 36 touchdown passes and eighth with 3,176 yards. The native of Frisco, Texas, had three games of five or more touchdown passes including a career-best six at Bemidji State.

Protecting Saddler is the duo of Burkhart and Larson. The duo protected Saddler who averaged 288.7 passing yards per game and rank seventh nationally with just 0.73 sacks allowed per game. They also helped set up a rushing attack that ranked 45th in the nation with 177.5 rushing yards per game. Burkhart is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, while Larson hails from Brandon, South Dakota.

The lead running back they created holes for is Epperson who finished with four 100-yard rushing performances. For the year, the native of Omaha, Nebraska, totaled 897 yards and six touchdowns. A dual-threat from the backfield, he also totaled 22 receptions for 239 yards including a season-opening 104 yards receiving against Minot State.

Engel, from Chaska, Minnesota, is one of the nation’s best at receiving the ball. He concluded the regular season ninth in DII with 13 touchdown receptions and 33rd with 850 receiving yards. He had three games of 100 or more yards receiving and four multi-touchdown games.

A trio of Vikings earned second-team honors in Mitchell Goodbary, Logan Uttecht and Logan Swanson.

Goodbary, a tight end from Sioux Falls, totaled 60 yards and two touchdowns in the regular-season finale and ended the year with 16 receptions for 199 yards. Uttecht, a wideout from Sioux Falls, tallied a breakout campaign of 48 receptions, most of which were one-handed acrobatic grabs, for 613 yards. He totaled eight touchdowns and two games of 100 or more yards including a career-best 107 yards and three touchdowns in the win at Minnesota State.

Swanson, from Mankato, Minnesota, spent his entire senior campaign being double-teamed on the defensive line but that didn’t stop him from recording 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. His abilities clogged up running lanes for the opponents as the Vikings ended 2021 ranked second in the nation by allowing just 39.6 yards per game.

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