Augustana football keeps it close, but not close enough
Augustana College’s football team is better than its 1-6 record would suggest.
The Vikings dropped their first three games but lost two of them by less than 3 points. They opened against State University of New York Cortland, falling in a close contest, 34-32.
Both teams found the back of the end zone multiple times in the first half, but the Red Dragons took a 24-16 lead into halftime. The Vikings came out strong in the second half, putting up 16 points to Cortland’s 10, falling just short.
Zachary Fuller got the start at quarterback for Augustana and completed 16 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown. Running back Ryan Pitra also turned in a solid performance, rushing for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Cassin Wolfe led the Vikings defense with nine tackles. Devin Haxby also had a strong game on defense, racking up seven tackles and forcing one fumble.
In its next game, Augustana fell to Central College, 33-22, but played well throughout. Going into the fourth quarter, Augustana trailed by 2 points, but controlled the fourth quarter and sent Augustana to 0-2 on the year.
In their third game, the Vikings took on Carroll University and came close again, losing 28-25. Augustana was led by running back Zach Pitra, who rushed for 91 yards and one touchdown. On the defensive side, Haxby recorded 10 tackles for the Vikings.
Augustana took a big blow in its fourth game, getting crushed 55-14 by Carthage College. The Vikings struggled to get going offensively in the game, and the Carthage defense held Augustana's quarterback Luke Bleyer to 84 yards passing and forced four interceptions. No Augustana receiver recorded more than one catch.
The Vikings came back strong by defeating Elmhurst College the next week, 24-19, for its first victory of the year. Pitra recorded 89 rushing yards and one touchdown and caught five passes for 56 yards. John Kappel led the defense with 10 tackles, and Wofle had another strong game, with seven tackles and one interception.
The Vikings couldn't turn the win into a streak, however, falling 28-10 to Illinois Wesleyan a week later. Illinois Wesleyan controlled much of the game and took a 21-7 lead into halftime. Austin Chausse scored the Vikings' lone touchdown on a 1-yard run halfway through the first quarter. Quarterback Alek Jacobs completed 10 out of 21 passes for 77 yards.
Augustana then returned home to Rock Island to take on Millikin University for its annual homecoming game, but it was no celebration, as Millikin came away with a narrow 28-27 win. Luke Bleyer played most of the game at quarterback for Augustana and performed well, throwing for 194 yards and one touchdown. Ryan Hennessey was the main target for the Vikings' offense, with six catches for 72 yards and one touchdown.
Augustana’s will play its final home game on Oct. 28 against North Park. The season will wrap up in early November with a game against Wheaton College.
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