The Augustana Vikings football team had a big fourth quarter when they scored 14 points en route to a 24-21 victory over the Illinois Wesleyan Titans on October 29.

The Titans posted on the scoreboard first, when Andrew Stange nailed a 41-yard field goal attempt for a 3-0 lead. Both teams’ defense refused to let any more scoring for almost the rest of the first half until Jay Lemenager ended a 10-play drive for Illinois Wesleyan in the end zone and Stange’s PAT brought the score to 10-0 heading into the half.

Breyden Smith’s 79-yard kickoff return gave Augie its best starting field position of the game inside the Titans’ 20-yard line to start the second half. It eventually led to a 26-yard field goal from Sidney Maroon and put the Vikings on the scoreboard. The Titans roared back on the ensuing drive, taking the lead back to 10 with a 20-yard field goal after another 10-play possession.

Augustana finally got in the end zone on their final drive of the third quarter. A partially blocked punt from Toby Splitt gave the Vikings the ball at the IWU 42-yard line, resulting in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Cole Bhardwaj to Craig Shelton two plays later. A tenuous 13-10 lead for the Titans remained heading into the fourth quarter.

That lead didn’t last. The first time the Vikings got possession in the fourth quarter, Bhardwaj and Shelton connected again through the air, this time from 28 yards out to put the Vikings up 17-13 with just under 14 minutes remaining. The Vikings’ defense held the Titans inside Augie’s territory, forcing a punt to re-take possession at their own 10-yard line.

Augie meandered through a long, 10-play drive that took off nearly seven minutes of game time. They capped the drive with a seven-yard rushing touchdown from Tyler Rivelli to push their lead to 11 at 24-13. Illinois Wesleyan did not go down without a fight, however, thundering down the field to the end zone with 37 seconds left. A successful two-point conversion came next, setting up an onside try on the ensuing kickoff. A deflected ball off of an Augie player resulted in a recovery for the Titans and a dead-ball penalty gave the Titans the ball inside the Vikings’ 35-yard line.

On their first play from scrimmage, a sack and forced fumble by Chase Tatum ended Illinois Wesleyan’s comeback hopes as Ronde Worrels dived on the ball to give the Vikings possession. Two kneel-downs clinched the game and Augie squeaked by with the 24-21 victory.

Bhardwaj finished the day with 203 yards through the air to go with his two touchdowns to Shelton, who pulled in four catches for 95 yards. Rivelli was the team’s top rusher, with 62 yards on the ground. On defense, Conner Waite had a game-best 10 tackles, followed by seven from Worrels. As a team, the Vikings had five sacks, led by two from Cole Romano. The Titans outgained the Vikings 329-269 and possessed the ball for 11 more minutes.

With the win, Augustana notches their second consecutive win over Illinois Wesleyan and improves to 5-3 (4-3 CCIW) on the year. The team is at home for their final home game of the season on Saturday, November 5 when they welcome in the Carthage Firebirds for Senior Day. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. from Lindberg Stadium.