Ichabods tame Lions 26-20 on back of Williams’ two touchdowns

Slap hands Triple-threat Cary Williams, No. 12, celebrates with his teammates after returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown with 2

Matt Resnick

An electrifying individual performance at Yager Stadium last Saturday left the Missouri Southern Lions football team looking for an answer to one critical question: How do you stop Cary Williams?

Unfortunately for the Lions, that question will forever remain shrouded in mystery, as Washburn’s triple-threat Williams scored an offensive touchdown, a special teams touchdown and nearly took back an interception for a score. Williams’ dazzling display ignited the Ichabods to a 26-20 victory against the visitors from Joplin.

For Washburn it was a crucial conference victory, keeping them in the hunt for a conference title and postseason play. Washburn’s record is now 4-2 (3-1 MIAA).

“This was the best game of my career,” said Williams, Washburn senior cornerback. “I like the individual accolades, but collectively this win was a team effort. If it wasn’t for those other 10 guys, I wouldn’t be able to go out there and make plays. On the kick return, I gave a little stutter-step and then the lane just opened up. If it wasn’t for [Erin] Beck’s block I probably would have been down at the 20.”

Williams, whose primary position is cornerback, put Washburn up 13-0 midway through the first quarter, hauling in a Jordan Brill pass and leaving Lions defensive backs in the dust on a 68-yard touchdown strike. Washburn kicker Andrew Knight added the extra point.

“This week coach Schurig just started incorporating me into the offense,” said Williams. “On the touchdown Brill made a great throw and I just made the play. This was a big win, with our backs up against the wall.”

The Lions scored 13 consecutive points to take a 20-17 lead with 2:38 remaining in the 3rd quarter. On the Lions go-ahead drive running back Alley Broussard took a toss and swept around the left corner on a one-yard touchdown scamper, capping a 13-play, 80-yard drive. The extra point was blocked.

The Missouri Southern lead was short-lived. Williams fielded the ensuing kickoff two yards deep in his own end zone and, with a stutter-step that left a Lions defender sprawled on the turf looking more dazed than someone trying to defend an Allen Iverson crossover dribble, broke into the clear for a 100-yard return. The touchdown moved Washburn back on top, 23-20, with 2:23 remaining in the third. Knight added the extra point.

“I think Cary has displayed that he is one of the top players in the country at this level,” said Craig Schurig, Washburn football head coach. “Cary playing wide receiver is something that I think we will do all year. It’s hard because he’s so valuable on special teams and on defense. It’s great for the team when he makes a play, but that takes a lot out of you when you reverse like that.”

The Lions took a safety midway through the fourth quarter to fall behind, 26-20. Missouri Southern did threaten to score one more time, driving to the Washburn 15-yard line with a little more than four minutes left. Williams, however, sealed the deal when he picked off Lions quarterback Adam Hinspeter in the Washburn end zone, returning the ball 36 yards. The Ichabods ran out the remaining 4:03 for the 26-20 victory.

“Against Emporia State the biggest thing that we have to do is be consistent,” said Schurig. “We have the players to make the plays, but consistency on offense will be the big key, as well as third down stops on defense. We have to win at home. We want to try to establish this as a really tough place to come in and play, but you can’t do that if you are losing games.”

Washburn related

Former Ichabod defensive tackle Trey Lewis recorded five tackles, with four against Titans quarterback Vince Young and his first career interception off of Young in only his second start for the Atlanta Falcons this year.