Football falls to Nebraska-Kearney on senior night

The football team took on the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers on Senior Night Saturday, Nov. 10. The Ichabods celebrated the careers of multiple student athletes that have left their mark on the football program.

To start the game, senior defensive back Corey Ballentine returned the opening kickoff to the 15 yard-line. With the first play of the drive, the Ichabods fumbled the ball and the Lopers recovered it. The defense came through forcing a fourth-down. The ensuing field goal from UNK negated the fumble.  

Later in the first quarter, the Lopers ran the ball, then fumbled it. They then recovered the ball 10 yards down the field for a first down. The Lopers would eventually find the end-zone on a 6-yard touchdown pass. UNK would lead Washburn 7-0 with 5:23 left in the first quarter. The Ichabods would punt on their next drive. 

After an Ichabod punt, the Lopers would drive the ball 98 yards and cap off the drive with a touchdown. UNK led 14-0. 

The Ichabods then got to work and drove down into the red-zone, but they could not push it any further than the 4-yard line. Senior kicker Perry Schmiedeler would knock through a 20-yard field goal to make the score 14-3.

The Ichabod defense would stop UNK from gaining much ground, forcing the Lopers to punt the ball. On fourth down, when the Ichabods looked like they were going to punt, Schmiedeler took off and gained 20 yards, good enough for an Ichabod first down. A couple plays later, sophomore quarterback Mitch Schurig would find James Brania-Hopp for an Ichabod touchdown, but the Lopers would still lead 14-10 with 2:57 left in the first half. 

The Ichabods would go into the half down 14-10. Senior linebackers Austin Tillman and Derrick McGreevy combined for 19 tackles through the first two quarters. 

The Lopers received the ball to begin the second half. On a flea-flicker, the Lopers tried to fool the Ichabods, but junior cornerback Josh Wright intercepted the pass. The Ichabods would drive the ball deep into UNK territory but would have to settle for a field goal. The Lopers would still lead 14-13. 

The Lopers drove the ball down just outside the Ichabod red-zone, but the Ichabod defense would force a turnover on downs after a fourth down pass sailed past his receiver. The Ichabod running game came to life as red-shirt freshman running back, Will Evans put together multiple 15+ yard carries. Schmiedeler then came on to give the Ichabods a 16-14 lead after a 38-yard field goal. 

UNK needed an answer to the Ichabods and once again got the ball into the Washburn red-zone. Just before that, the Ichabods forced a fourth down, but an unnecessary roughness call gave the Lopers a second chance. With only 11 seconds left on the clock, the Lopers made a 24-yard field goal to go up 17-16. 

The Ichabods got the ball back with eight seconds left, but were not able to score  nd lost 16-17.

The Ichabods end their season with a record of 5-6. The Ichabod seniors end their careers as some of the best to ever to suit up for Washburn. Leading the way this year on defense were senior cornerback Corey Ballentine, along with the linebacker duo of McGreevy and Tillman. 

McGreevy was grateful to suit up as an Ichabod, but visibly upset with how the season ended.

“The season has kind of been up and down with wins and losses. I am proud of everybody with all of the hard work that they have done,” McGreevy said. “I am just happy to leave with no regrets. I want to thank all of the coaches for everything that they have done.”

As far as his career has gone, McGreevy believes that playing football for the Ichabods has been one of the greatest times of his life.

“This has been amazing. I made a lot of friends, a lot of memories. I have learned so much,” McGreevy said. “I can’t thank the coaches and players enough for everything. I am gonna miss everybody a lot.”

Schmiedeler is one of the best kickers in Washburn football history. He is second all-time in points scored by a place kicker. He was very emotional after the game.

“This has been the best time of my life. I was just telling these guys behind me that being out here with these guys on Saturdays, out in practice all day every day, 6 a.m. in the offseason, everything has been the best,” Schmiedeler said.

As for the football program, these seniors have left their mark on the history of Washburn football. Head coach Craig Schurig and the rest of the coaching staff are going to miss the qualities these players brought to the field.

“[We’ll miss] how they approached the game. They played hard, they had a lot of leadership,” Shurig said. “Whether it was in the weight room, our summer program or spring practice, the biggest thing about this senior group was how they approached the process of being a team. They did a great job of that.”