WHEATON — The first couple of plays of the game went well Saturday for the Augustana College football team.
After that, things went sideways for the Vikings in a season-ending 53-10 setback to No. 22 Wheaton here at McCully Stadium that was as lopsided on the field as it was on the scoreboard.
“We hung tough early in the game and created a turnover on their first possession,” said Augie coach Steve Bell after his club finished the season 1-9, 1-7 in the CCIW.
Former Davenport Assumption standout Daniel Tjaden sacked Wheaton QB Curtis McWilliams on the Thunder’s first snap of the game and forced a fumble that Kyle Conner recovered.
The Vikings turned that into a 3-0 lead when senior Jacob Stytz booted a 41-yard field goal just 1:27 into the contest.
After that, even with McWilliams lost to a broken leg later in the first quarter, the Thunder (7-2, 5-2 CCIW) were not to be stopped on their senior day. With 636 yards offense in 76 snaps, the hosts rattled off the 53 straight points. At halftime, Augie trailed 26-3 as Wheaton scored on two huge plays — a 72-yard TJ Williams run and a screen pass that running back Sola Olateju (14 carries 194 yards) turned into a 67-yard score.
Mismatches were evident as a veteran and physical Thunder team controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides against a young Viking bunch. Augie finished with five drives netting negative yardage.
“It’s going to sound ludicrous, but defensively I thought we did a nice job of holding them to field goals, minus two one-play drives,” said Bell of the first half. “We buckled down at critical times and forced them to have to kick two field goals.”
In the third quarter, Wheaton scored touchdowns on all four of its possessions.
“Going into halftime, we felt the guys did their jobs and held them to field goals,” said Bell. “We thought we could maybe pick away at this one touchdown at a time and then boom. Boom, Boom. Boom. Big play, big play, big play. … We talked about eliminating the explosive play and I think they heard it as give up the explosive play.”
Augie’s final score of the season came on a 13-yard keeper by freshman QB Alek Jacobs with 6:34 left in the game.
The Vikings finished with 146 yards rushing — 53 of those on one Antonio Cannon rush late in the second quarter. Cannon finished 60 yards on the ground and sophomore Bobby Jarosz added 59. Jacobs (5-16-0) threw for 41 yards and junior Luke Bleyer (5-11-1) added 34 yards in limited action.