Washburn football gashes Griffons defense in 47-41 win


Jesse Bruner

Hype him up: Teammates celebrate with Washburn University wide receiver Peter Afful (2) after scoring a touchdown Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Topeka, Kan. The Ichabods won 47-41 over Missouri Western State University.

After suffering its first loss of the season the week before, Washburn football looked to get back on track with an afternoon matchup against Missouri Western State University on Sept. 25, 2021. Each team entered the game at 2-1 and looked to avoid falling back to .500 on the season.

Things got started early for the Ichabods after receiving the opening kickoff. The offense drove downfield on a seven play 78 yard drive that took under three minutes. The drive was capped off by a 30 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver James Letcher Jr. from senior quarterback Mitch Schurig. Freshman kicker Trenton Brehm nailed the extra point to make it 7-0.

The Griffons responded with a 90 yard drive that lasted 14 plays, but took less than five minutes as they used short, quick passes to drive down the field. A seven yard touchdown pass and successful extra point knotted the game at seven with 7:24 remaining in the quarter. The offense continued to roll for Washburn as they notched a 16 play drive that ended in another touchdown pass from Schurig, this time to freshman fullback Connor Searcy from three yards out. The score made it a 14-7 game as the first quarter came to a close.

Missouri Western began the second quarter with a bang in the form of a 37 yard touchdown pass behind all Ichabod defenders to cap off an 82 yard drive and tie the game. On the next drive Washburn’s offense stalled early, and they were forced to punt for the first time after a fourth down false start. The Griffons did not slow down, and were aided by penalties on the Ichabods defense, allowing them to punch it in on a direct snap run by the fullback. A missed extra point left the game at 20-14 with 4:54 left in the half.

On offense Washburn got back on track, as they drove down to the Griffons 30 yard line in only five plays. The next play was a deep pass into the endzone off the hands of Schurig that looked to be heading towards a defenders hands before junior wide receiver Peter Afful made a leaping play over the defenders shoulder to take the ball for a touchdown.

“I see the corner just standing right in front of me, and so I knew right there if I jumped at the perfect time it’s going to be a Moss,” said Afful.

A missed extra point left the game tied at 20. Each team traded punts as the game moved to halftime.

Missouri Western got the ball out of halftime, and got creative on its first drive. They capped off a six play drive with a pitch back to the running back who launched a perfectly placed 36 yard touchdown pass to the right side of the end zone. The extra point gave the Griffons a 27-20 lead just over two minutes into the half. The Ichabods responded quickly as they needed only two plays to strike back as Schurig and Afful connected again, this time for 44 yards, to tie the game at 27 after Brehm notched the extra point.

The defensive struggles continued for Washburn as Missouri Western once again quickly drove down the field on a drive that included a 73 yard catch before finishing with a six yard pass. The Ichabods offense once again had an answer, this time relying on senior running back Zach Willis to move them down the field. After being stalled on the Griffons 13 yard line Willis took a fourth down handoff to the left side all the way into the endzone to tie the game at 34.

The next Missouri Western drive began pinned deep in its own territory, and Wahsburn’s defense held them there, not allowing a first down. On the third down senior defensive end Malick Fall came up with the first sack of the day for the Ichabods to force the punt. Bad field position resulted in a short punt putting Washburn only 33 yards away from the end zone. Only one play was needed to get there and it came courtesy of a pass from Schurig to senior wide receiver Jace Williams. Another successful extra point made it a 41-34 game.

On the resulting drive, the Griffons were driving down the field as they had the whole game prior, but this time were stopped by a diving interception by senior defensive back Marquise Manning before the end of the quarter.

“It felt good. It felt like they were picking on us all game,” said Manning. “You feel really motivated to come back out and try to do it again.”

In the fourth quarter with the Ichabods controlling possession, they were once again on the move. A big third and nine throw and catch from Schurig to Letcher Jr. set up junior fullback Will Evans for a five yard touchdown rush. The extra point was blocked making the lead only 47-34.
The ensuing drive for Missouri Western was slower than the rest of the half had been, thanks to sure tackling by the Washburn defense. The Griffons were still able to push the ball into the red zone, but that is as far as they would get before senior linebacker Brooks Peavler at the one yard line with 6:17 remaining.

The Ichabods would run off some clock before punting back to Missouri Western. The Griffons would punch in another touchdown with just over a minute left to pull within six points, but would fail to recover the ensuing onside kick. Washburn would be able to run the clock down to eight seconds before punting it away to secure the 47-41 victory.

“It’s an offensive shootout, but the defense made the key plays of the game, you know, they rose up and made some stops,” said Head Coach Craig Schurig. “It got us all the momentum.”

The win moved the record to 3-1 on the season. Schurig finished 24-30 with 388 yards passing and five touchdowns. Letcher led the way in the air with 113 yards on five catches while Williams added 80 yards. Willis paced the Ichabods with 63 yards on the ground on ten carries with a touchdown. On defense Peavler, Manning and junior safety Peyton Lane all recorded ten tackles.

Next up for Washburn is a road contest against Emporia State University on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m.

Edited by Ellie Walker and Alyssa Storm