Wellington seemed to turn the tide of Friday night's game at Augusta with a long pick-six touchdown to stop an Oriole drive early in the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders took a 12-3 lead on the play, but Augusta battled back with a long drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tristan Finch to Logan Weakley to pull within two at 12-10.
Facing a crucial third-and-8 on the ensuing series, though, Wellington quarterback Trevor Nance connected with Colin Reichenberger for a 62-yard touchdown pass on a well-designed play to ice the game with 5:16 left as the Crusaders went on to win 19-10.
"Just had a breakdown in coverage. Our safety bit on the run," coach Roger Robben said. "We talked about it all week and that was the thing we worked on all week. They were going to keep running the ball, keep running the ball, and then at some point they were going to do play action and try to throw it over the top. And they hit it and beat us."
Augusta drops to 1-2 on the season and will travel to play Clearwater next Friday night.
Unlike last year's contest, when Augusta made the big plays that made the difference in the Orioles' win a season ago, the Crusaders came up with the game-changing plays. On third down while behind only a field goal, Finch had a pass get away from him as Nance returned the interception 100 yards.
Plays like that make all the difference in a game as close as this one. Both teams played tough, physical football with the running game. Augusta had 46 rushes for 118 yards while Wellington had 95 yards on 36 carries.
Both teams had long drives come up empty. Wellington's opening possession went 76 yards before the Orioles' defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs. The Orioles drove 76 yards back the other way before they lost a costly fumble in the red zone.
"It's that smallest margin of error. You can't make mistakes, especially in games that are tight. They will come back to hurt you," Robben said. "Obviously it hurt us with the fumble in the first half and interception in the second half."
Augusta cracked the scoreboard first after Kyler Steinkamp connected on a 23-yard field goal late in the second quarter. Connor Hurst had a 15-yard run and Finch connected with Chaydon Carter for 18 yards as the Orioles' 54-yard drive stalled at the 6. Augusta scored on 2 of 4 trips to the red zone.
The Orioles finished with eight penalties for 57 yards, including a hold that erased a 52-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Hurst.
"We lost the game, and that's disappointing, but I'm extremely proud of our kids," Robben said. "I think they played hard, they fought hard and they legitimately gave it everything they had. We just have to correct mistakes."
Page 2 of 2 - Austin Dunn finished with a game-high 75 rushing yards for the Crusaders. Finch led the Orioles with 58 yards, including a couple big gains on spectacular scrambles to avoid tackles.
In the air, Finch completed 14 of 23 passes for 190 yards. Hurst had seven receptions for 41 yards. Anthony Castillo had three catches for 40 yards, Carter caught two for 55 and Trae Goken hauled in a 38-yard pass.
Defensively, Carter and Dakota Thompson led Augusta with seven tackles apiece. Caleb Faulconer had six and Castillo had five.