NAPERVILLE — In the first quarter of Saturday’s CCIW football clash, the Augustana Vikings — with a little bit of help from some windy conditions — played tough with No. 5 ranked North Central.
But when the teams switched ends at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium, so did the fate of the Vikings. North Central, bouncing back from a tough Monday setback at Wheaton in a delayed game, blew away the Vikings 54-2.
The Cardinals (6-1, 4-1 CCIW) erupted for 27 second-quarter points en route to a 34-0 halftime lead and were in total control.
“That team is too good when you give them easy ones,” said Augie coach Steve Bell of things changing with the wind in the second. “They’re capable of piling it on really quickly. There were spurts where we were pretty good, but we weren’t consistent enough.”
The Vikings also didn’t have any answers up front — on either side of the ball. Offensively, Augie (1-7, 1-4 CCIW) was missing three starting offensive linemen, and that led to plenty of troubles as the Vikings netted just 188 yards on 60 plays and were forced into 11 punts by freshman Alex Bryan.
“I felt bad for our quarterbacks at times,” said Bell. “They have really good defensive linemen who are juniors and seniors. They were just too big, too strong and too tough. … We just have no depth up front. When you’re starting sophomores and going to (younger) backups, that’s not good.”
NCC also unleashed its relentless offense, rolling up 538 yards offense on 75 plays. As the tide was turning, the Cardinals were also able to convert on key fourth downs — doing that four times in five tries in the game.
“They kind of figured out some things they could do offensively and got a couple of broken plays,” said Bell, whose team recorded its safety in the fourth quarter. “The dam just kind of broke in the second quarter.”
Ryan Pitra was Augie’s leading rusher, finishing with 31 yards on four carries. Freshman QB Alek Jacobs, usually one of Augie’s top running threats, netted just one yard on 12 carries. He completed 4 of 8 passes with one pick for 42 yards. Junior QB Luke Bleyer completed 10 of 20 passes for 65 yards, but was picked twice.
As Bell said, “I’m going full Bill Belichick on this,” ready to put this game in the rear-view mirror. “It’s on to North Park.”