Defense dominates for Washburn in home opening win


Kyle Manthe

Huddle up: Washburn’s offense huddles up during a timeout in the first quarter of the Ichabods 29-10 win over Central Missouri.

After a dominant 76-12 season opening victory over Lincoln University of Missouri, Washburn University Football returned to Yager Stadium for the first time in over 600 days for a matchup against the University of Central Missouri. The Mules entered the game at 0-1 while the Ichabods looked to keep their perfect record alive before hitting the road again.

“The whole experience of coming through the tailgaters and coming down the hill, and the video and the fans, it was wonderful,” said Craig Schurig, Washburn’s head coach.

Washburn picked up where they left off in the last game, reeling off a seven play eighty-yard drive in just under three minutes that was capped off with a 24-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback, Mitch Schurig, to junior wide receiver, Peter Afful. The point after attempt broke down and was unsuccessful as the Ichabods would have to settle for just six. After Washburn’s defense forced a punt, the offense took over but did not get far before a pass from Schurig in the middle of the field was intercepted by Central Missouri.

After the turnover the Mules would only need to take the ball 24 yards before they would be in field goal range, as they connected on a 27 yarder to cut the lead in half. After a short kickoff the next play the Ichabods would have good field position but would fall into trouble with a trick play that ended with senior wide receiver James Letcher Jr. attempting an on-the-run pass that was intercepted just outside the ten-yard line. The teams would punt on the next three possessions as the quarter would come to a close.

Washburn’s offense got back on track in the second quarter as they drove eight plays and 65 yards to set up a field goal but the 32-yard attempt was unsuccessful from sophomore kicker Kameron Lake. The defense continued to hold strong, forcing another punt which the Ichabods were not able to recover and Central Missouri was set up on Washburn’s thirty-yard line. The drive would not last long, on the first play a pass into the right side of the end zone was picked off by senior defensive back Marquise Manning and returned out to the 41-yard line of the Ichabods.

“I knew they were going to try me so I did my best. I turned around and the ball was in the air and I just made the play,” said Manning. “I broke one tackle so I started reading up in the endzone to see how much of a lane I could take and as soon as I saw one, I took it.”

On third down of the ensuing drive, Washburn threw its third interception of the half, the second by Schurig, which set up a drive that would end in a 14-yard touchdown for the Mules, leaving the score at 10-6. The Ichabods wasted no time responding as Letcher Jr. would take a pass from Schurig 62 yards to the endzone. The extra point would put Washburn up 13-10 with five minutes left in the half. The Ichabods would extend the lead once more before half, as Lake connected on a 48-yard field goal with just 19 seconds before halftime, making it a 16-10 game.

On the first drive of the second half Central Missouri started with possession but quickly lost it after an interception by junior defensive back Christian Clark. Each team would trade scoreless drives with Washburn’s defense coming up with a timely fourth down stop behind midfield. The stop set up a 48-yard drive that was capped off by a ten-yard touchdown pass from Schurig to freshman tight end Matthew Simmons, Lake would add an extra point to make it 23-10. The teams would trade punts until the end of the quarter.

The Ichabods started the fourth quarter with possession and looked to run clock, calling primarily run plays. It was successful as they drove down the field to set up a 39-yard field goal from Lake which he connected on to make it a 16-point game. After another stop from the defense, Washburn nearly replicated the same drive they had to start the quarter. It went 66 yards over 11 plays and resulted in another field goal from Lake, this time from 32 yards out.

“Credit to the o-line up front, they got after them and wore those dudes out and our running backs were hitting the holes hard and breaking tackles,” said Mitch Schurig.

The defense forced another three and out drive and the Mules punted it away again. That gave the Ichabods the ball back with just over five minutes left. Washburn would run the ball and drain the clock until time ran out as the game ended 29-10 and the Ichabods were 2-0 on the year.

Schurig finished the game 19-34 with 249 yards, while senior running back Zach Peters and sophomore running back Taylon Peters rushed for 59 and 54 yards respectively. Letcher Jr. led the way receiving for the Ichabods, as he caught four passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. On Defense, junior defensive back Kevin Neal Jr. paced Washburn with six tackles and senior linebacker Jacob Anderson added five more along with two tackles for a loss.

“The second half I thought our defense played even better than the first half and it just felt like we were playing downhill and eventually it would break,” said Craig Schurig. “Central [Missouri] is a good team to gauge yourself a little bit because we have struggled with them.”

Next up for the Ichabods is a trip to Kearney, Nebraska to face the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Sept. 18.

Edited by: Madison Dean