Eagles soar over Ichabods 34-24 in season opener at Yager Stadium

Ra’Shawn Mosley, Washburn running back, tries to break through a tackle during the Ichabods loss to No. 5-ranked Chadron State. Mosely carried 18 times for 81 yards in the game.

Nathan Miller

In case people forgot why Danny Woodhead was last year’s Harlon Hill award winner, he reminded everybody Saturday. The senior tailback rushed for 290 yards and four touchdowns, helping No. 5 Chadron State Eagles cruise over the No. 25 Washburn Ichabods, 34-24.

“The win is the biggest thing,” said Woodhead. “Its just one game. We have a lot of season left, but today we got what we wanted.”

Woodhead was the first to break the plain, scoring on a 16-yard touchdown run at the 4:49 mark of the first quarter putting the Eagles on top 10-3. The score concluded an eight-play, 63-yard drive that answered Washburn freshman place kicker Kyle O’Neal’s 36-yard field goal and spurred a span of 21 points in the next 49 seconds.

Washburn responded quickly as senior corner Carey Williams took the responding kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown that evened the score at 10 a piece. However Chadron would respond on the next drive in just two plays. After junior quarterback Joe McLain connected with senior wide receiver Landon Ehlers on a 45-yard pass play to the Washburn 16-yard line, Woodhead ran it in again giving Chadron a 17-10 lead.

“One thing about these kids is they don’t give up,” said Bill O’Boyle, Chadron head coach. “This is a very work oriented team. We don’t panic on the sidelines. We’re going to put things together and do what we have to do.”

The two other Woodhead touchdowns were responses to two Washburn turnovers, the second of which was the dagger for Ichabods. After Washburn sophomore linebacker Michael Krajicek picked off McLain and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown with 14:09 left in the third quarter, the Ichabods were once again in scoring position at the Eagles 16-yard line, trailing 24-17. On the next play Eagle sophomore linebacker Cameron Rust picked off senior Jordan Brill, giving the Eagles the ball on their own 11-yard line. The following play Woodhead hammered the nail in the coffin, breaking 89 yards for a touchdown, extending the Eagles lead 31-17.

“I think Jordan’s thought process was real good on it,” said Craig Schurig, Washburn head coach. “He might of just tried to guide it in there and their kid did a real nice job of breaking on the ball.

“We had the big play on defense that converted a touchdown. But that play was a back breaker. That is where Woodhead is really good. It looked like we had him bottled up and then he took off and was gone.”

Brill had two interceptions in his first start since leaving the game against Pittsburg State last year on Oct. 7, because of a prolonged shoulder injury. Brill had a hard time finding a consistent go-to guy, as he hooked up with 10 different wide receivers Saturday.

“They were cramping up and I’m trying to spread the ball around more this year,” said Brill. “Shoulder surgery set me back a bit, but I got to work with most of them this summer. It’s one of those things where we’re going to see it on film and know what we have to do.”

Under the helm of Brill, the Ichabods offense only racked up 369 yards of total offense and committed three turnovers. But things could have been quite different as several passes just missed the fingertips of Washburn wide receivers poised to score if completed.

“The first half we thought we could get behind them and we tried a couple of times, but we were just not there,” said Schurig. “Some of that is probably timing. If we converted on those early, it’s probably a better match.”

Chadron’s offense however was clicking especially in the second half, when they turned to their rushing game to wind down the clock with the lead. Woodhead went into halftime with 15 carries and 90 yards of rushing. The second half, he carried the ball 17 times for 200 yards.

“Defensively, as you’re on the field, good backs as you will see with any game, that’s when they get their big runs,” said Schurig. “As the game wears on, he is a high energy guy, and the defense tends to get tired. He is a very good player.”

Woodhead may have already started his campaign for another Harlon Hill award. Woodhead ran for a NCAA single season best 2,756 yards last year and with another more than 200 yard outing against Washburn, now has 18 in his career.

“We’re just getting to where we know what we have,” said O’Boyle. “But Danny will always run hard. There is no question about that.”

But for Woodhead, winning Division II Player of the Year again is the furthest thing from his mind.

“That hasn’t even been thought of,” said Woodhead. “Hopefully if we keep on playing really hard each week we can be the DII team [of the year]. But we just need to take it one week at a time.”