Washburn football fights to overtime

The Washburn football team needed a win against Fort Hays State Saturday, Oct. 4 to prevent from losing at least four of its first five games for the first time in over a decade.

When the team captains met at midfield for the coin toss, Washburn was only represented by three players as opposed to the traditional four. Quarterback Mitch Buhler was still out with a shoulder injury and did not suit up. Sophomore Zeke Palmer started his second game, first at home, at quarterback against the Tigers.

Washburn won the toss and elected to defer.

The opening kickoff was a touchback, setting the Tigers up at their own 25 yard line. FHSU drove the field, overcame a sack, and eventually ran it in for a touchdown, capping off a five minute drive. Fort Hays was on top 7-0 with 10:03 to go in the first quarter.

The ensuing kickoff was kicked out of bounds, giving the Ichabods good starting field position at their own 35. They marched down the field but as the entered the red zone, a personal foul would push them back 15 yards.

On 2nd and 18 at the Tigers 27, running back Vershon Moore fumbled the ball and the Tigers recovered.

After the fumble recovery, the Tigers took over at their own 39 with 7:11 left in the first quarter.

FHSU went three-and-out and punted deep, giving the ball back to Washburn with just over five minutes to go in the quarter.

On the first play from scrimmage, Palmer hooked up with wide receiver Jordan Hart for a 72-yard pass, taking the Bods down the opponent’s 1-yard line.

Running back Sean McPherson ran it right after to tie up the game, 7-7.

Fort Hays State responded quickly, though. After receiving the kickoff and returning it their 35, they broke the tie with a bubble screen that went for long yardage and into the end zone, just about a minute and a half after Washburn’s first touchdown.

The first quarter ended 14-7, Fort Hays State.

The second quarter did not start off well for the Ichabods. After taking a sack on a 3rd and 8, the Bods were forced to punt. But punter Aaron Hummert pinned the Tigers down at their own 8-yard line.

Washburn returned the 3rd down sack as linebacker Zach Weekley took FHSU quarterback Brad Schencker to the ground, forcing a Tigers punt.

The remainder of the quarter both teams battled back and forth, but no drives from either side were successful, and the first half came to a close with the score remaining 14-7, Fort Hays State.

Washburn received the kickoff at the opening of the second half, but both teams went three-and-out on their first possessions of the second half.

When Washburn received the ball with just under 12 minutes to go in the 3rd, they ended up finding themselves in a 4th and short situation on the Tigers 36 yard line three minutes later. The Ichabods went for it, but failed to convert and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

This gave the ball to FHSU the ball on the Washburn 49 with just under nine minutes left in the quarter.

A stiff Ichabod defense held, though, and forced the Tigers into a punting situation. But on the punt, the snap was fumbled. It was recovered by a Tiger but the result was turnover on downs, giving the Ichabods great field position at the Tigers’ 24-yard line.

With 6:36 to go in the 3rd, Palmer hit wide receiver Brad Gourley for a 20-yard touchdown pass, tying the game up once again at 14-14.

The next possession, FHSU found themselves in a 3rd and 3, but rather than run it, they took a shot downfield and were successful. A 43-yard pass from midfield set the Tigers up 1st and goal from the Washburn 7-yard line.

After three attempts, the Tigers managed to gain only four yards, setting up a 4th and goal from the 3-yard line.

On 4th down, Schencker took it up the middle for a QB sneak, was stuffed and so tried to bounce it outside, but was thrown down by Washburn safety Peter Pfannenstiel. The Ichabods’ goal line stand was successful, shutting the Tigers down on the 1-yard line.

With their backs against the wall, the Ichabods went to Vershon Moore, who busted out, taking the ball from the 1 to the 20. A holding call, however, brought the ball back to the 6.

The third quarter ended with a bang, though, as Palmer on 3rd and 8 from his own 13, hit wide receiver DaJuan Beard with the deep ball. Beard took it down to the Tigers’ 20-yard line. A block in the black called back a good chunk of yardage, but even so, the Ichabods were up to their own 45 – quite a ways from where they started.

At the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Bods found themselves in a 4th and 1 situation. They took the gamble and went for it, and it paid off. The Ichabods converted to 1st down on the Tigers’ 45-yard line.

Soon after, Palmer hit Jordan Hart for a 30-yard pass to put the Ichabods into scoring position. Moore finished the drive, pounding it into the end zone to cap off the 99-yard drive and to take the lead over the opponent, something that hadn’t happened at home since the second half of the season opener against Lindenwood.

With thirteen minutes to go in the game, the score was set at 21-14, Ichabods.

The Tigers’ next possession was stymied and they went to punt formation, but the punt was faked and the trickery earned them a 1st down. But the Tigers soon after found themselves in another 4th down situation.

FHSU converted again and marched down to the goal line, but it was all in vain. A Tigers’ fumble was recovered by Washburn who returned it to their own 6-yard line. Another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the Bods back, though, and once again they found themselves backed into a corner, only three yards out from their own end zone.

A couple tough runs by McPherson along with a facemask penalty brought the Bods up to their own 33, but on 3rd and 5 Palmer was sacked, forcing Washburn to send out the punting unit.

The Tigers had to punt in their next series and pinned the Ichabods down deep, making them start their drive inside their own 3 for the third time.

The Ichabods went 3-and-out and punted from their own end zone, setting up the Tigers’ offense at Washburn’s 38-yard line.

The Tigers went down and scored on a short pass, setting the score to 21 all with 55 seconds left in regulation.

Neither team could score the remainder of the game, and so overtime began.

FSHU started with the ball first on their own 25. They drove all the way down to the 3-yard line but could not punch it in and were forced to settle for a field goal.

Washburn received the ball next. A timeout was called before the first half. Washburn’s offense seemed confused when the timeout was called. But after the time out, the Bods drove nine yards. On 4th and 1, rather than going for a 33-yard field goal, head coach Craig Schurig decided to go for it.

The ball was given to Moore who crashed through the line for the 1st down.

On the following play, from the 15 yard line, Palmer hit Beard in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown, winning the game. The crowd was on its feet and the Washburn team stormed the end zone.

But the officials congregated, and after a few minutes of deliberation, reversed the call and ruled the catch incomplete.

So the Ichabods found themselves back on the field at the 15, 2nd and 10. Palmer handed the ball off to Moore who took it in 15 yards, almost untouched, for the touchdown, and this time it counted.

The Ichabods came away with the victory in overtime, 27-24, improving to 2-3 on the season.

Earlier in the week Schurig mentioned that one key thing the team needed to work on was stopping teams in the red zone and forcing field goals instead of allowing touchdowns. And that is just what the Ichabods did on Saturday, and it paid off.

“[The 4th down stop] was a big key to this game, especially that stop and then forcing the field goal this week,” said Pfannenstiel, who made the stop on 4th down when the Tigers were at the Washburn 1-yard line. “In the past we haven’t been doing a very good job of it, but this game our motto has kind of been ‘start over.’”