“I just can’t describe the feeling. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We definitely deserve it. In our eyes, it [was] overdue,” said Augustana junior running back Ryan Pitra of his team’s first victory of the season.
Pitra and his fellow Vikings (1-4, 1-2 CCIW) spoiled homecoming weekend at Langhorst Field on Saturday, defeating the Bluejays (1-4, 1-2 CCIW) by a final score of 24-19.
The victory counters the Bluejays triumph during Augustana’s homecoming weekend last season and places the two teams on even footing within the CCIW conference standings, one game up on last place North Park.
Pitra led the way for Augustana, accounting for 145 total yards and a game sealing touchdown with 1:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Hats off to our o-line,” said Pitra, reflecting on the touchdown. “They did a really nice job opening some stuff up for me and just being physical.”
The Vikings final drive spanned 71-yards on 15 plays, pushed the score to 24-13 and consumed over eight minutes of the game clock, drastically reducing the likelihood of a Bluejay rally.
“There were a couple times we got stuck [with] third down,” said Pitra. “But it really just comes back to everything we’ve been preaching ever since fall camp … essentially just being physical, keeping the tempo up and finishing.”
For the Bluejays, it comes down to simply, “capitalizing on opportunities,” said senior cornerback Victor Ogbebor. “Opportunities are there.”
“We’re doing everything we gotta do, we just gotta keep going,” added Ogbebor, who contributed five total tackles, forced a fumble, and broke up one pass.
Junior quarterback Orlando Hernandez agreed with his teammate and took it one step further.
“I think we had them the whole game. I think their backs were against the ropes the whole game. We just gotta finish,” said Hernandez. “So it's nothing that they did. It's all on us.”
Hernandez was 15 for 27 through the air, accumulating 156 passing yards and three touchdowns against one interception. He also ran the ball 15 times for 113 yards.
With 1:18 left in the game, Hernandez kept his team’s hopes alive when he found junior tight end Matt Brachmann in the corner of the end zone with a eight-yard pass, making the score 24-19; however, it was too little, too late and Augustana recovered the ensuing onside kick to ensure the win.
For Pitra and the Vikings, the win gives them a positive outlook as they head home for a meeting with Illinois Wesleyan next Saturday.
“It really just came down to finally doing it. Stop talking about it and actually do it,” said Pitra about breaking into the win column. “We’re very happy.”
For Hernandez and the Bluejays, there is work left to be done.
“If we want to win, we gotta execute and we gotta finish,” said Hernandez.
The Bluejays visit Carroll University on Oct. 7 for a 1 p.m. ballgame against the Pioneers.