Ichabods fall short in season opener

The Ichabods opened their season Thursday Sept. 4 at Yager Stadium in a shootout with the Lindenwood Lions.

Washburn, led by their captains, quarterback Mitch Buhler, running back Vershon Moore, guard Dylan Ready and free safety Calvin Kenney, won the toss and elected to defer. Lindenwood received the ball first, but went three and out. During Lindenwood’s punt, the Bods’ defense, who head coach Craig Schurig has mentioned has good speed, swarmed into the backfield and junior defensive back Jarvis Harrod blocked the punt. Safety Peter Pfannensteil recovered the ball and took it in for six.

After Lindenwood punted on their next possession, Washburn marched down the field and capped the drive with the first of many touchdown passes to senior wide receiver DaJuan Beard, putting Washburn up 14-0 only four minutes into the game.

Two possessions later, a long pass from Mitch Buhler to his brother Matt Buhler eventually set up a 26-yard field goal by Justin Linn, setting the score 17-0, Washburn.

Lindenwood scored on a rush the following possession, making it 17-7 with 1:59 to go in the first quarter.

But Washburn responded with a vengeance.

A kickoff return to Washburn’s own 45 allowed the Ichabods to quickly get into scoring range, leading Buhler to hit Beard in the end zone once again, pulling in the catch while falling down, with two seconds left in the quarter. The quarter ended 24-7, Washburn.

The second quarter was the polar opposite of the first for Washburn.

After receiving the kickoff and failing to convert on their first series, Lindenwood shanked a punt out of bounds, giving Washburn great field position near mid-field. But not long after, Buhler threw an interception, which Lindenwood returned to the Washburn 34. This led to a Lions touchdown.

With Washburn dropping a punt and later being sacked, Lindenwood managed to rack up a touchdown and a 40-yard field goal in the final three minutes of the half. With Washburn being shut out in the second quarter, the first half ended 24-24.

On their second possession of the second half, Washburn had to burn two timeouts on a drive that ultimately ended in a punt. Lindenwood , however, was unable to carry their momentum over from the end of the first half. On a Lindenwood third down, Washburn’s junior defensive end Spenser Matthews sacked the Lindenwood quarterback, forcing a punt.

Washburn drove 80 yards in four minutes and nineteen seconds, finishing with a one-handed touchdown reception by Beard – his third touchdown.

But that momentum was quickly killed.

Lindenwood returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, again tying it up at 31-31.

Then, right after Washburn returned the kickoff to their own 19, Buhler threw a second interception at the 30-yard line, which Lindenwood returned to the 22. This set up a touchdown for the Lions, putting them ahead for the first time in the game at 37-31.

But they missed the PAT.

A long return on the kickoff with an additional 15 yards for a late hit out of bounds, the Bods started at the Lindenwood 33. After the shift to the fourth quarter, the long kickoff return set up a stretching catch by junior wide receiver Connor Crimmins 51 seconds into the final quarter. With a solid extra point, Washburn was back on top at 38-37.

Lindenwood responded with a five minute drive, ending in another six and a good PAT, stealing the lead with a 44-38 score.

The Bods were unable to strike back. Punts and penalties plagued the blue, holding them back until the clock hit zero. The score of the contest between these two teams was very similar to last year’s – 44-35 – but this time Washburn was not the one to come out on top.

The Lions went on a 17-0 run in the second quarter, but the defense’s strategy hadn’t changed.

“I don’t think anything changed,” said Kenney. “Maybe we got a little relaxed. When you get a lead like that it’s always important to keep them down.”

Kenney said the team just made too many mistakes to win, and that’s what they’re going to focus on for next week.

The Ichabods (0-1) play at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (0-1) Thursday Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.