Big Blue Clenches Nail-Biter Against Augustana


Photo by: Athena Pajer

Quarterback Nicco Stepina (Left) and Gerald Perry (Far Right) mid-play against Augustana Vikings on September 27.

Millikin beat the Augustana Vikings 28-27, coincidentally matching the score they secured last season when winning against Augustana. The game was a proud moment for the Big Blue after coming off a tremendous 63-6 loss from Wheaton College last Saturday.

Coach Dan Gritti could not be prouder of the team that showed their heart and determination and didn’t give up.

Wide Receiver Gerald Perry scored two touchdowns before the second half. Perry was one of the key players throughout the game and had 116 yards in receiving.

Wide Receiver Tyrice Hines also played a good game with over 150 yards of receiving. On defense, Kyle Ramos made tackles and played smart.

That being said, the first half started slow, the Big Blue allowing Augustana to score 14 points, but “Ramos is always in the right spot,” Gritti said.

“One of our problems is we’ve been trying to defend against ghosts on offense and defense,” Coach Dan Gritti said after the game. One of the team’s weaknesses has been the players losing focus throughout the game and there was an improvement in the second half. “I tried to get us focused, get out, and get a good start and we did that for the most part,” Gritti said.

Seconds before the second quarter ended, Wide Receiver Jordan Smith received a questionable move not called by the referees.

Smith waited in the end zone ready to catch the ball thrown by quarterback Nicco Stepina, when several Augustana players descended upon him. A majority of the Millikin crowd, Coach Gritti, and the rest of the team saw Smith get pushed.

The referees ended up not making the call.

That only made Big Blue angry. Smith bounced back from the tackle, but half-time shortly followed.

They started the second half tied 14-14. Defense and offense visibly improved – and Smith scored the two touchdowns to secure the win.

Smith gained 98 yards in receiving and brought in the final touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. The team was fired up, not wanting a repeat of last week’s loss, and fought and picked up the intensity that brought them to the end of the game.

The team may have won, but Big Blue still needs to make improvements. The team has a tendency to pick up and charge hard through the second half, but according to Gritti, this will need to be improved so they also play well right at the start.

“We have to stop spotting people 14 points to start the game,” Gritti said.

The team also needs to improve mentally and start their intensity from the beginning throughout the entire game, not just in the last quarters.

The Big Blue is now 3-1 in the season and will be pushing forward and using their strategies to gain the rest of the season. They will get back to work and get ready to play against Carroll University on Oct. 6.