ROCK ISLAND – The last two trips the North Park Vikings made to Rock Island to face the hosting Augustana Vikings in CCIW play, the Chicago school walked off with improbable victories.
On Saturday, Augie made sure there were no such football shenanigans.
Physically dominating the game and leaving no doubt as to the outcome, Augie muscled up for an impressive 71-0 victory at Lindberg Stadium, coming just a point shy of tying the school record for points in a game. That mark was set in a 1920 72-0 victory over Hedding College, a school in Abingdon, Ill., that eventually was absorbed into Illinois Wesleyan.
While falling short of making history, the hosts accomplished their major goals in the battle of CCIW Vikings.
“It was our motto this week to have a quick first and third quarter,” said fifth-year senior quarterback Zach Fuller. “We wanted to come out at halftime and stay aggressive no matter what the score was. Our goal was to have 35 in the first half.”
Augie (4-2, 3-2 CCIW) almost had that mark by the end of the first quarter against winless NPU. Fuller had two long touchdown passes in the opening frame – 50 yards to Patrick Byrne and 23 yards to Max Uranich – and senior running back Bobby Jarosz (15 carries, 91 yards) had two TDs as the hosts built a 27-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Jarosz had a third TD run in the second period, Rock Island's Alek Jacobs quarterbacked a solid two-minute drill and capped a 50-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring strike to Byrne and Owen Ennis booted field goals of 27- and 26-yards after promising drives bogged down to up the halftime margin to 47-0.
“I thought we executed well,” said Augie coach Steve Bell of the bounce-back from last week's 42-14 loss to ninth-ranked North Central. “We talked all week about executing and coming out of the gate fast in the first and third quarters. I thought we did a nice job with that.”
Fuller hit Tom Dolis on a 38-yard scoring strike on the first drive of the third frame to up the margin to 54 and the turnstyle for the reserves started spinning after that.
“The starters were being good teammates working with them and cheering them on,” said Bell. “It's important to get those guys quality reps in real game-like situations and not just mop-up duty. They need meaningful reps.”
The stats were just as lopsided as the final score. Augie ran 77 plays for 537 yards – its most prolific offensive production of the season. On the other side, Augie's defense only allowed North Park eight plays in its territory the entire game, holding the visiting Vikings to 90 yards offense in 55 snaps.
Augie's defense forced six turnovers. Two of those were interceptions by David Lane and Luke Phelan, whose return came up a yard short of a pick-6 and set up Jarosz's second score of the game. Daniel Tjaden, Joe Timm, Devin Haxby and Dom Haubner grabbed the fumble recoveries.
This type of loss has been the norm for NPU this season, which was shutout by North Central (77-0) and Wheaton (63-0).
It's hard to tell how much this win helped Augie prepare for next Saturday's showdown at undefeated and fifth-ranked Wheaton, but it did prove to be a nice bounce-back game.
“Our guys know that they didn't play well last week, they're not dumb,” said Bell, noting a solid week of practice led up to Saturday's blowout. “That's the effort and execution you give, that's the result you get … Those guys know that. Hopefully we can bounce back this week and have a great week of practice. It's going to be a tough, tough battle and we understand that.”
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