ELMHURST — Showing an incredible efficiency on both sides of the line of scrimmage, the Augustana football team opened CCIW play on Saturday with an impressive showing.
The Viking offense scored on its first four possessions and the Augie defense came up with two red zone turnovers in leading Augie to a sound 35-0 victory over hosting Elmhurst at Langhorst Field.
The shutout was the first for an Augie team since the eighth game of the 2013 season when the Vikings blanked Carthage 28-0. It is also Augie's first 2-0 start since the 2008 season.
“It's nice for the guys to hang their hat on,” said Augie coach Steve Bell, downplaying any significance of the program's first goose-egg in over four seasons. “The only thing that matters is that we won the game.”
Ironically, the Vikings won the game, in part, by the offense being able to pick apart an old Augie 3-3 stack defensive approach that Elmhurst (1-1) now employs.
“They bring guys at you from different angles and try to free up a linebacker to get at you,” said Bell. “Our guys did a good job of sorting it out and getting a hat on a hat with no free runners.”
The Vikings displayed a well-oiled offense in Saturday's first half. Their scoring drives were 48 yards in four plays, 87 yards in six plays, 76 yards in 11 plays and 80 yards in 10 plays. The first three ended with senior QB Zach Fuller TD tosses and the fourth was a Bobby Jarosz 1-yard run.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Fuller. “The first half, they only had three down linemen and we just took advantage of it. We had a lot of spacing by our wide receivers, and it helped out that the o-line played well, as well.”
For the game, Augie churned out 514 yards offense in 70 plays with nearly a perfect run-pass split. Fuller completed 21 of 28 passes for 256 yards and the three TDs. He completed passes to eight receivers with former Rock Island standout Alek Jacobs (13 yards), tight end Justin Pope (5 yards) and Max Uranich (10 yards) catching the scoring passes. Uranich led Augie with six catches for 90 yards.
The running game was strong, too, totaling 258 yards in 42 attempts. Jacobs, running out of the wildcat formation, led the way with 77 yards in six carries. Jarosz added 79 yards in nine attempts, and Geneseo's Ryan Pitra added 68 yards on a team-high 14 carries, including an 11-yard TD run in the third quarter.
“I thought we ran the ball real well, which I thought we could,” said Bell. “I thought our running backs did a nice job and our offensive line did a nice job getting hats on hats which opened up our ability to throw the ball a little.”
All that offense was set up by another great defensive effort that limited a potentially dangerous Elmhurst offense to 269 yards on 59 snaps. After forcing six turnovers in its opener vs. Coe, the Vikings added three more to the season total. Sophomore Zach Stewart and freshman Jordan Dossett grabbed interceptions and senior Austin Nice recovered a fumble.
Luke Sawicki led the Vikings with 11 tackles (3.5 TFL), and local preps Daniel Tjaden and Cassin Wolfe recorded QB sacks.
With both sides of the ball feeding off each other, the Vikings have won their first two games for the first time in the four years of the Bell coaching era at Augie.
“Working in coordination with each other,” said Bell, “good things can happen.”