Ichabods survive a homecoming shootout

For the first time in a month the Ichabod football team trailed in a game. After the first quarter of Washburn’s homecoming game against the Lindenwood Lions, the undefeated football team trailed 14-7.

After scoring the first touchdown of the game on a Mitch Buhler seven- yard pass to junior running back Vershon Moore, it was all Lions in the first period. A pair of three-yard touchdown runs by junior running back Marvin Byrd put them in the drivers seat.

The second quarter started off even worse than the first for the Bods. An interception by junior defensive back Dante Lewis and a fumble by sophomore running back Kameron Stewart gave the Lions the ball near midfield twice. The MIAA’s top ranked scoring defense held their ground and kept the offense in the game.

“That’s how it has to be,” said senior linebacker Bryce Atagi. “If the defense is struggling the offense has to pick them up, if the offense is struggling defense has to pick them up. That’s how we do it and we got a good team win today.”

However, it was a big play by the special teams that got the Bods back into the game. A muffed fair catch attempt by junior defensive back Brian Hawthorne, recovered by sophomore DB Jordan Nelson gave the offense the ball at the ten yard line. Two runs by redshirt freshman Cody Heiman including a one- yard plunge into the end zone tied the game at 14.

With two and a half minutes remaining in the half, the Lions were able to put together another six play, 69 yard scoring drive that ended with a 16-yard pass to junior wide out Alex Robinson.

The Bods were able to respond in the minute and a half remaining in the half, however, after a six play drive covering 58 yards in just 50 seconds. They tacked on a field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Justin Linn just before halftime.

After short drives by both teams to start the second half, the Bods got another much needed break on special teams. A short punt picked up and returned by Atagi gave them the ball at the 37 yard line. A five play drive capped off by a 19-yard pass to senior tight end Tore’ Hurst gave the Washburn their first lead of the game with 7:26 remaining in the third quarter.

That lead lasted exactly 14 seconds as the Lions’ freshman wide receiver Tre’ Roby returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to put them back in front 28-24.

The resilient Ichabod offense had yet another response. They ate up most of what was left of the third quarter with a six minute and 49 second drive that spanned 80 yards on 13 plays. It ended in the end zone with a beautiful fade in the back of the end zone from Buhler to senior wide out Matt Kobbeman for a 15-yard touchdown.

The next Washburn drive also ended with a touchdown to put them in the lead 37-28 because of a missed extra point. A 20-yard pass from Buhler to his older brother Matt was their second touchdown connection on the year. After scoring on three consecutive drives, things were looking up for the Ichabods.

Nothing was for certain in this shootout though. Three minutes and 19 seconds later, the Lions were back within striking distance. A perfectly thrown 17-yard pass from sophomore QB Dillon Miller to fellow sophomore receiver Sam Sealer had them back in business, down by just two with over nine minutes to play.

“We knew they had a great offense, said Atagi. “They were putting up yards against everybody. We knew it was going to be a tough task. Sometimes I think they were getting big plays because we had guys trying to do other people’s jobs, but overall we came together at the end to get the win and that’s all that matters.”

One last insurance score from Hurst, his fifth of the season, put the Bods back up by nine with just over three minutes remaining in the game. If that wasn’t enough to seal the deal, Atagi made another big play to do just that. A jumping interception at the goal line. As he trialed in coverage, it seemed that he was beat in coverage, but a last second leaping catch gave the ball back to the offense to run out the clock. The pick was Atagi’s fifth on the year, which most on the team and in the conference.

Heiman was the man for the job. With Moore out with a lower leg injury he suffered earlier in the game, the 245 pound back pounded the rock for the last 3 minutes, to end with 84 yards and a score. The back who didn’t even play running back at the beginning of the season, is now the team’s second leading rusher with 290 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also has six touchdowns, which is second on the team as well.

“Lindenwood is a good team,” said Hurst of the now 3-5 Lions. “We had to get for them and we faced a lot of adversity in this game, which is good because we didn’t face a whole lot during the season. We were able to overcome it, which is a nice thing to have when we’re going into these later games.”

The Ichabods face their first real test of the season next week in Maryville, Missouri as they take on the second ranked Bearcats from Northwest Missouri State. Last time the two teams played the Bearcats beat the Bods 56-6 at Yager Stadium for Washburn’s homecoming game.

“We’re all in,” said Buhler. “We’ve got to win these last three and we control our own fate right now. Now we’ve just got to take care of business one week at a time and we’ll be alright.”