Ichabods football outdraws Cowboys 82-21

Josh Rouse

When it rains, it pours… even if it’s just a drizzle.

The light precipitation that stuck around most of the day on Friday was gone by the time Washburn (2-0) took the field for their home opener, but the Ichabods flooded New Mexico Highlands as though the levy just broke, scoring a school record for points in a game-61 of which were in the first half alone-and blocking three punts in the 82-21 victory.

“You know, I had no idea it was a record,” said head coach Craig Schurig. “Ron Wessel let me know, our equipment person, with a couple minutes to go he said ‘Hey you guys broke a record.'” You don’t set out at any game that you think you’re going to score that. Really, the first half you try to put as many points on the board as you can. The game’s not over. The second half, obviously, we were just trying to run some offense, get some guys playing time. The guys played hard and things opened up for them, but you don’t set out to score that number of points, you set out to just win the game.”

Washburn scored twice off blocked punts-once when Brody Schuler blocked the first punt in the second quarter and third string running back Terrence Lowe recovered the ball and returned it four yards for a touchdown, and then again on the second blocked punt when second string running back Vershon Moore burst through the line to block the punt and it rolled out of the back of Highland’s end zone for a safety. The rest of the Ichabod special teams unit-sans punter Austin Hills, who didn’t take the field the entire game thanks to Washburn’s healthy offensive output-performed well, including an intimidating kickoff team that pinned the Cowboys deep in their own territory on almost every kick and a record breaking performance by kicker Steve Ivanisevic, who drilled a 27 yard field goal and 11 PAT kicks, another school record.

“Special teams was something we really wanted to improve on from week one, and we did,” said Schurig. “Our punt block unit did a great job. A couple of those were returns that were set up for a return. But we always take someone to the ball and he got in and blocked it. That obviously is a big momentum thing when that happens.”

Senior linebacker Zach Watkins, who forced a fumble in the first quarter that led to a passing touchdown, was also happy with the performance of the special teams unit, and said the entire team-offense, defense and special teams-played a solid game.

“We pride ourselves on special teams a lot,” said Watkins. “We try to work hard on those every week. The coaches did a great job of getting the punt block team set up and we were fortunate to get a couple blocks out there.”

Watkins, who wore the No. 40 jersey in honor of fallen teammate Ben Muir, said it was surreal to hear his name announced over the loud speaker during the pre-game with Ben’s number, and he was proud to wear it.

“Hearing my name with Ben’s number, that’s a huge honor,” said Watkins. “I’m so glad I was able to wear it. I wish I’d been on the field a little more to show the number 40 off, but the team played well and we came away with a big win.”

Aside from the stellar play of the special teams, quarterback Dane Simoneau also had a monstrous performance, throwing 8-15 for 127 passing yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Despite his gaudy numbers, Simoneau credited the rest of the team for putting him in situations to make things happen offensively.

“The defense and special teams did a nice job of setting us up,” said Simoneau. “We were set up inside the 20 a couple of times. They just did a nice job. Offensive line did a great job and we were able to run the ball and the passing kinda opened up.”

Simoneau started the game off with a bang, completing a 30-yard pass to wide receiver Brad Cole on just the second play of the game, but taking a hard hit in the process that sidelined him for a good part of the drive.

“Very first pass,” said Simoneau, “I turned to throw to my left side and the defensive end kinda put his helmet right in my sternum and knocked the wind out of me, but I’m all right.”

Cameron Kasel came in to replace Simoneau temporarily, but had an expanded role in the second half as Schurig rested his starting quarterback with the game out of reach.

“I thought Cameron did a real nice job when Dane got shook up,” said Schurig. “He came down and did some real nice things with our run game and the hard count and got us some free plays and took us right down to the scoring area.”

After the Ichabods got into the scoring area, however, Dane was right back on his feet. Following an offsides penalty against Highlands’ Josh Conway that moved the football up to the Washburn seven yard line, Simoneau returned and threw a touchdown strike to starting running back Justin Cooper on his first throw since leaving the field, putting the Ichabods up 7-0 and initiating what would become a record setting day for Washburn.

“We had a pass play and Dane was feeling good and we were able to kind of get him some pointers on it, so that’s why we made the quick substitution,” said Schurig. “But Cameron can do a very good job and he did. He really led the offense very well in the second half.”

Washburn’s next game is against MIAA opponent Missouri Southern at 6 p.m. in Yager Stadium.

“We feel like our conference is the toughest in the country and it’ll start next week,” said Schurig. “Really, the season starts next week for us.”