Homecoming games do not get much sweeter than that.
Augustana built a 24-0 halftime lead that proved insurmountable and refused to stop suffocating the University of Mary until the clock struck zero.
After destroying Northern State 48-17 in their previous game, the Vikings one-upped themselves, pitching their second shutout of the season.
The scoring began midway through the first quarter with the longest play of the game, a 61-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Trey Heid to senior wideout Matt Gerry. From then on, Augustana’s offense could not be stopped or even contained.
The Vikings scored 17 second-quarter points and tacked on another 28 in the second half for good measure.
“I think we played pretty good against a team like this,” Heid, who finished 14-19 for 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns, said. “We’ve hit so many deep balls lately that teams are forced to respect our passing game, which opens up the running game for us quite a bit.”
Running backs Dejon Newell and C.J. Ham supplemented Heid’s big day with stellar outings of their own. Newell, a senior, ran for 100 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for another 32 yards. It was Newell’s first 100-yard game since his sophomore season, when he accomplished the feat six times. Ham, a junior, supplied 69 yards on the ground and found the end zone twice.
“The running backs are running more decisive now,” head coach Jerry Olszewski said. “Week-by-week they’re getting better. Part of the reason that our passing game is going so well is teams are playing seven and eight-man boxes trying to take the run game away.”
Olszewski also credited the offensive linemen for improving in the blocking scheme implemented last season.
The offense tallied 52 points, but the defense also reached heights not yet seen in the two years Olszewski has been in charge. The unit permitted Mary to enter the red zone only once, where they eventually fumbled the ball away, keeping the shutout intact.
Senior end Paul Ingram’s two sacks and junior linebacker Jackson Rynda’s
interception contributed to the defense’s dominance.
“It feels good to go out there and get that shutout in front of our home crowd,” senior linebacker Ben Skelly said.
The Vikings seemingly called off the dogs by inserting much of their second unit midway through the second half, but they continued to produce.
Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Chase Marso helmed the offense, passing for 98 yards and a score without letting the ball hit the turf once. Freshman Jackie Davis hit paydirt for the first time in his career, tallying 66 yards on 10 carries.
“It was great to see our young guys move the ball on their starting defense,” Olszewski said. “Everybody on the field this year has been fun to watch.”
Augustana opens the NSIC South Division slate this weekend against undefeated Upper Iowa before returning home the week after in a much-anticipated matchup with USF.
“Last time I checked, Upper Iowa is 4-0, and they’re a pretty good football team,” Olszewski said.
“Our attention is 100 percent on that football team.”- Dajon Newell