By Nate Jones and
WELLINGTON - It was finally their time.
The Orioles have had their moral victories. Their tough defeats.
Now, they have an exhilarating victory under their belts.
Two teams that were evenly matched took the field Friday night, but Augusta had a little bit more than Wellington. The Orioles defeated the Crusaders 14-6 at Wellington's Sellers Park in Week 3. It's the first victory for Augusta since its 33-0 win against El Dorado in October of 2010, snapping a 12-game losing streak.
"It was big. I was very proud of our kids and the way they played and competed," coach Roger Robben said. "The win is the big part for our kids that we needed. It just gives you a breath of fresh air, life that can rejuvenate things and also affirms some things we've been doing in preparation and practice for our games."
Wellington, which also entered the game with an 0-2 record, struck first with 56 seconds left in the opening quarter. Senior Andrew Linnebur crossed the goal line from eight yards out, but the extra point was no good. Linnebur was the leading rushing for the Crusaders, piling up 52 yards on 11 touches.
Augusta sophomore Trae Goken had another solid night on the ground. He pounded the Crusader defense for 93 yards on 21 carries. He answered Wellington's first-quarter score with his own 15-yard run for a touchdown with 10:21 left in the first half, which included the extra point by Tristan Finch; who would later prove to be a wrecking ball against the Crusader offense.
A pivotal point in the game was just before halftime as Augusta's defense made a big stand. Wellington drove the ball deep into Augusta territory with a collection of pass completions by senior Nick Becker. The Crusaders had the ball inside the 10-yard line with one second remaining in the second quarter. Becker got a clean pass off to senior Alex Weiss, but was stopped for a short gain when Finch wrapped him up. The score stood at 7-6 in favor of Augusta at the half.
"We just made plays when we needed to make them," Robben said. "I'm proud of them for the effort they put out there. The key guys, in key situations, made plays."
The teams traded possessions through the third quarter. Wellington's special teams made a big play on a punt return, setting up the offense deep on the Oriole's side of the field. The Crusaders again drove the ball down to near the goal line. That's when Finch made what Robben called one of the most crucial plays of the game. With two receivers to one side, Finch was able to jump a route and make an interception, which he returned 30 yards for another huge momentum-shifting play for the defense.
Page 2 of 2 - Early in the fourth quarter, Goken scored on a three-yard run with 8:17 left in the game. The Crusaders, down 14-6, began to mount a drive with sophomore Trevor Nance at quarterback. But a fumbled snap out of the shotgun was recovered by the Orioles, who now have one less 'O' on their record, as they were able to run the clock down to end the game.
Augusta edged Wellington with 244 total yards to the Crusaders' 219. Augusta is now 1-2 on the season (1-0 in AVCTL-Div. IV). They will host Clearwater next week at Hillier Stadium. Wellington is winless across the board and will travel to Wichita Collegiate in Week 4.