There may not have been any train whistles signifying passing rail traffic Saturday evening near the Augustana campus.
But the rumble of a powerful presence was definitely felt.
The Augustana football team's offense was rolling like a silver bullet freight train in the CCIW opener, and the Elmhurst Bluejays were helpless in getting it derailed.
Wearing new gray uniforms, the Vikings scored on their first six possessions of the game and even added two points when David Lane blocked a PAT kick and returned it 90 yards for a two-point conversion en route to a convincing 55-13 victory.
By halftime, the 2-0 Vikings had accrued 311 yards offense in 42 plays and built a 45-6 lead on the winless Bluejays.
Even with all that offense, which finished with 448 yards, Coach Steve Bell said it all started on the defensive side.
“We played good; both sides played well,” said Bell. “Our defense really is the one that catapulted our offense.”
Senior running back Bobby Jarosz was responsible for much of the offense, along with fifth-year senior QB Zach Fuller. Jarosz rushed 14 times for 108 yards and two rushing scores. He also caught a 13-yard scoring strike from Fuller.
Fuller was nearly perfect in the first 30 minutes, completing 15 of 18 passes for 161 yards and four TDs. He found four receivers for those aerial scores — Tom Dolis (8 yards), Ethan Jennings (7 yards), Craig Shelton (17 yards) and Jarosz.
“Some of those holes were massive,” said Jarosz, who had 113 yards rushing in the opening victory and did not play in Saturday's second half, settling for another 100-yard effort. “This is the best. The past couple of years our offense has been kind of slow, but we knew that this would be our best year. … This is great when we can play off our defense and our defense can play off of our offense. It makes the game way better. I think the results tonight kind of show what kind of team we are and what we can do in the CCIW this year.”
The better test will be on Saturday when the Vikings travel to face Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington at 1 p.m.
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Still, the Vikings dominated the over-matched rebuilding Bluejays and left no doubt as to the outcome.
Twice the offense converted on short fields created by strong defense — which allowed 281 yards and finished with eight tackles for loss and two sacks, both by reserve Chase Tatum — and special teams play.
JJ Cervino's interception set up the scoring strike to Jarosz that put the Vikings up 31-6 with 11:40 left in the second quarter.
The Vikings then followed an Elmhurst punt with a 6-play, 60-yard drive that culminated in Jarosz's 19-yard scoring run with 7:16 left in the half and a 38-6 lead.
When the Bluejays had issues on a punt attempt on their next possession and Jarosz brought down scrambling punter Matt Burns, the Vikings took over at the Elmhurst 17.
On the first play, Fuller dropped a perfect pass to freshman Shelton in the corner of the end zone for the 45-6 advantage with 6:10 left in the half.
The Vikings were then forced into their first punt on the next possession and then were stopped by the clock on their eighth offensive try of the half.
Augie kept it rolling to start the third quarter, taking the opening kickoff and driving 73 yards in 10 plays with Fuller sneaking in the final yard for the score before calling it a night.
Senior DB John Kappel had two early second-half interceptions that helped the Vikings keep the Bluejays at bay until the final score with :30 left in regulation and reserves on the field for both squads.