Schurig satisfied with win

Josh Rouse

The Ichabods opened their season in style Saturday, Aug. 29, defeating the Colorado School of Mines 27-14 in Golden, Colo. The victory marked the fifth straight time Washburn has beaten the Orediggers.

Washburn head coach Craig Schurig, who played defensive back for the Orediggers from 1983-1986 and was an assistant coach there in 1992, said the game was as much a learning experience as it was a contest for the Ichabods.

“It was a good win,” said Schurig. “We were tested. [Colorado School of] Mines is a good team. And they did some things on offense that tested our defense, and vice versa, they did some good things on defense that tested our offense. It was just good to get a game under our belt. We needed to play, obviously, and there’s a lot to improve upon.”

Washburn won the opening cointoss-a rarity for the Ichabods, as they won only one cointoss last season-and deferred to the second half. After a 50 yard return by the Orediggers’ touted redshirt freshman receiver Cody Renken, the team traded punts before Colorado School of Mines jumped onto the scoreboard with a touchdown throw from David Pesek to Adam Saur. This was following a questionable third down personal foul call against Washburn’s Luke Schuckman.

Running back Justin Cooper started off slow for the Ichabods, with his longest rush in the first quarter being only three yards, but ended the game with an impressive 136 rushing yards on 13 carries, thanks to a 78-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter that increased Washburn’s lead to 27-7.

“It’s our first game and initially he was running, you know, kinda waiting for things to happen,” said Schurig. “The other thing is they did some things, kinda moved right at the snap, and it confused some of the things that we were doing blocking-wise. At halftime, we were able to sit on them a little bit better and he ran a lot more aggressively. He’s a very physical runner. He started to do that in the second half and it made for some big gains.”

Washburn quarterback Dane Simoneau also had a strong game, throwing 17-26 for 236 yards and a touchdown. Simoneau scored Washburn’s first offensive touchdown of the season, hitting receiver Joe Hastings in the end zone on a 19-yard pass after a holding penalty on tight end Cameron Knox moved the Ichabods back from first and goal on the 9-yard-line to first and goal on the 19-yard-line. Hasting ended the first half with four receptions for 96 yards and didn’t have a reception in the second half. Simoneau also threw an interception in the second quarter.

“[Simoneau] did some good things,” said Schurig. “We just missed on some big plays that I’m sure he wished he had back because he has an accurate arm. Our receivers did a nice job making plays and the protection really got better for us, too, so he was really starting to feel comfortable out there. You could tell as the game went on it kinda slowed down for him a little bit. I felt good about his performance.”

However, the first touchdown of the Ichabod’s season was scored on defense, where Washburn shined brightest. Redshirt freshman defensive back Pierre Desir picked off a David Pesek pass on second and eight, returning it 38 yards for the second quarter touchdown. The PAT kick by Steve Ivanisevic was blocked, however, and longsnapper/linebacker Zach Watkins was trampled. Watkins had a noticeable limp after the play.

“He had someone land on the back of his ankle,” said Schurig. “Hopefully that’s nothing that keeps him down. He’s always been very durable. He’s a tough kid that’s able to usually come back from things, so we’re hoping that doesn’t hold him out at all.”

Some of the other defensive highlights of the game included four sacks (two by senior defensive tackle Ben Bianchino) and a goal line stand in the fourth quarter that ate up clock and forced a turnover on downs, eventually leading to Cooper’s 78-yard rushing touchdown.

“That was really the key to the whole game,” said Schurig. “I think Mines did some good things, got down there. If they score there, they’re within one score and an extra point to take the lead. The goal line stand was huge and then we were able to drive the ball. The defense really did a fine job all game of not giving up big plays and keeping things in front. We flew around pretty well after they caught the ball and had some big hits.”