Simoncic tosses three TDs as Washburn dominates in season opener


Dalton White

Sophomore quarterback Kellen Simoncic looks to keep the momentum going against Central Missouri. Simoncic threw three of Washburn’s four passing touchdowns against Lincoln.

The Washburn Ichabods took the field for the first time on a warm Thursday, Sept. 1, against the Lincoln Blue Tigers in front of a packed crowd at Yager Stadium and came away with a 45-3 victory.

After Lincoln’s first drive stalled out, the first Washburn score of the season came with 11:11 to go in the first quarter on a 69-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Kellen Simoncic to senior wideout James Letcher Jr. After a Lincoln punt, Washburn continued to pile on the points in the first quarter as sophomore placekicker Kameron Lake connected on a 28-yard field goal to give the Bods a 10-0 lead with 6:57 remaining in the quarter. After a short punt by Lincoln, Washburn drove down the field and scored with 2:44 remaining in the first with a 13-yard pass from Simoncic to senior wide receiver Collin Wilson to give Washburn a 17-point cushion as the quarter ended.

The second quarter began with Lincoln turning the ball over inside the red zone, and the Ichabods capitalized with a seven-play, 89-yard drive capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Tyler Bowden. Washburn led 24-0 with 11:40 remaining in the half. After a long drive by the Blue Tigers, the Washburn defense held strong and forced a missed field goal to reclaim possession. Washburn continued its offensive dominance with a five-play, 80-yard drive, which included a 39-yard pass from Simoncic to Letcher and a 14-yard touchdown run by Bowden to give Washburn a 31-0 lead with 3:48 remaining in the half. Lincoln finished the half with a ten-play, 76-yard drive, which was capped off with a 30-yard field goal by #38 Javier Moreno to make the halftime score 31-3.

Washburn started with the ball to begin the second half and moved it at an alarming rate. The Ichabods scored their fifth touchdown of the game with 11:45 to go in the third quarter after a 17-yard strike from Simoncic to senior wideout Peter Afful extended the Washburn lead to 38-3. Lincoln’s first drive of the second half started strong, but Washburn came up big as senior linebacker Derrick McClendon intercepted Lincoln quarterback Xzavier Vaughn’s pass. However, the WU offense could not capitalize and was forced to punt. The game’s pace slowed down as the sun set over Yager Stadium. Washburn and Lincoln held each other scoreless for the rest of the third quarter as Washburn still held a commanding 38-3 lead.

As the fourth quarter began, senior backup quarterback Jared Taylor threw an interception that gave the Blue Tigers good field position, but the defense stepped up and stopped the Blue Tigers dead in their tracks. After each team traded punts for a couple of possessions, Washburn scored again with 5:14 remaining in the game, as Taylor connected with redshirt freshman wideout Cole Keller to give the Bods a 45-3 lead. The Ichabods never looked back as the clock hit triple zeros.

Simoncic led the Bods’ offense by completing 15 of 21 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Letcher led Washburn in receiving five completions for 177 yards and a touchdown.

The WU offense gained 585 yards in total, including 422 yards through the air. Defensively, Washburn held Lincoln’s run game to only 63 yards on the ground and 187 yards passing.

With the win, Washburn moves to 1-0 on the season and leads the series over the Blue Tigers 9-0. Washburn will head to Warrensburg, Missouri, to take on Central Missouri Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m.

Edited by Justin Shepard, Olivia Watson