Regrouping from its first loss of the season to deliver a convincing victory, the North Central College football team put a damper on Augustana College's Homecoming celebration Saturday at Lindberg Stadium, throttling the Vikings, 48-10, in a performance that resulted in several new entries in the program's record books.
The Cardinals (4-1, 3-1 College Conference of Illinois &Wisconsin) saw quarterback Broc Rutter complete 30 of 42 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, making him the first passer in school history to complete at least 30 passes three times in the same season. He moved into second place in North Central history in passing yards (7,747). Rutter's most popular target on the day was senior wideout Michael Sfikas, who hauled in career highs of 14 receptions (matching the Cardinals' single-game record) and 193 yards (tied for fourth all-time).
Senior linebacker DJ Warkenthien, meanwhile, assumed sole possession of North Central's career record for tackles for loss (48.5) and moved into the program's all-time top 10 in tackles.
The Cardinals' offense moved efficiently all afternoon, scoring on eight of 11 possessions and only being forced to punt once. North Central took the game's opening drive 78 yards in nine plays to open the scoring. After six straight passing plays, Dominick Muoghalu covered the final 42 yards on three rushing attempts, as his eight-yard touchdown run provided an early 7-0 lead. Augustana (2-3, 1-3 CCIW) managed to tie the score at 7-7 on its first drive, getting a five-yard TD run from Alek Jacobs on third-and-goal, but the visitors regained the lead at 14-7 with 3:18 left in the opening period as Rutter sidestepped a would-be tackler and fired a 59-yard scoring pass to Sfikas.
Warkenthien and Tommy Hyland ended Augustana's next drive with a shared tackle for loss on third down, as kicker Ryan Ganson's 40-yard field goal missed. Taking over on their own 23-yard line, the Cardinals traveled 77 yards in 12 plays and scored on a seven-yard pass from Rutter to Cameron Moore. Three plays and a Viking punt later, North Central embarked on a 12-play, 68-yard scoring trek which saw Muoghalu score on a one-yard run up the middle. Rutter kept the drive alive on fourth down-and-4 at the Augustana 27 with a 17-yard completion to Andrew Kamienski.
The Vikings did get a 34-yard field goal from Ganson on the opening drive of the second half, but North Central punched back less than two minutes later as Rutter found Sfikas for a 15-yard TD pass. The Cardinals brought kicker Derik Judka on for a pair of third-quarter field-goal attempts, and the freshman connected on kicks of 35 and 37 yards to boost the lead to 41-10 and improve to a perfect 7 of 7 on field goals this season.
Augustana put together a 12-play, 60-yard drive which put the hosts in the red zone, but the Cardinals' Alec Wolff intercepted a pass at the North Central eight-yard line to eliminate the threat. The Cardinals needed nine plays to travel the 92 yards for their final score, closing the possession with Rutter's 33-yard pass to Blake Williams and a 27-yard touchdown run by Terrence Hill on consecutive plays.
The Cardinals rolled up 523 yards of total offense. Rutter's 389 passing yards rank as the fourth-highest single-game total in school history, while Muoghalu led the ground game with 78 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Warkenthien and Zach Greenberg each finished with nine tackles and Jake Beesley broke up two passes.
North Central hosts Carroll University on Saturday at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.