Sixteen Washington seniors experienced their last home football game at Case Field Friday in what Cade Henigan called Homecoming 2.0.
Homecoming was a 34-27 overtime victory over West Liberty. The 24-22 Class 3A District 6 triumph over Fairfield was never tied, but the teams took turns scoring touchdowns. There were six lead changes, the last with 8 minutes, 32 seconds remaining.
“I love the way we came together as a team in the second half,” Hennigan said. “The energy we had on the field was awesome. We had a lot of guys step up. Walker Ikerd played a heckuva game. It was awesome to see.”
“A big deal for me was it’s important for the seniors to get a win in their last game,” Washington coach James Harris said. “That is special. I’m so proud of the team that they came together to do that for those guys.”
Washington missed two field goals early but got on the board with a spectacular play.
Facing a third-and-6 on its own 19, Washington’s Luke Turner found Ethan Hunt deep over the middle and Hunt ran the last 40 yards for an 81-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead with 6:56 left in the first half.
Tristan Waugh gave Fairfield a 7-6 lead 2 minutes later and the half ended with that score.
The third quarter started with an onside kick recovery by the Trojans.
Waugh ran for 15 yards on the first play, but the Trojans then faced a third-and-3 and threw a pass.
For the second consecutive week in the third quarter of a close game, sophomore linebacker Trashaun Willis switched the momentum with an interception and a return.
The Demons took over at midfield, completed a 16-yard pass to Chase McDole, then Turner ran up the middle, cut to the outside and didn’t stop until he was in the end zone for a 33-yard score and a 12-7 lead with 10:14 remaining in the third quarter.
“That really hurt us because it was a huge momentum swing,” Fairfield coach Matt Jones said. “That was tough.”
The Trojans took advantage of the next momentum swing. After a punt pinned Washington on the 1, a fumbled pitch was recovered in the end zone by the Trojans. A two-point conversion after the TD gave Fairfield a 15-12 lead with 7:26 to go in the third quarter.
Washington wasted no time in taking the lead back, using just four plays to go 67 yards. Two Kolten Hinrichsen receptions for 25 yards sandwiched a Garrett Ikerd run that gained eight. Turner ran up the middle from the 35 and entered the end zone standing up for an 18-15 lead with 5:55 left in the third quarter.
“I think our offense played the best game of the year,” Harris said. “We moved the ball at will.”
Fairfield’s Waugh moved at will at times, especially when he ran out of the wildcat formation.
The Trojans scored on their next drive as he ran the ball six of nine plays. Facing a fourth-and-8 at the 31, Waugh went out for a pass and caught it in the end zone for a 22-18 advantage with 1:39 still left in the third quarter.
“It was like he was shot out of a cannon to go get that thing,” Jones said. “He changed speeds and Carson (Crile) just laid it out there beautiful for him. There was good protection on that play. I think that’s what made it. That was fun.”
Waugh had 169 yards rushing on 33 carries. Crile was 11 of 22 for 169 yards passing.
“There were times where we were moving it and getting 5, 6 or 8 yards a carry, but then Washington would make a defensive play and we would be behind the chains again.You have to give credit to Washington. They would bring a guy on a stunt or play a game inside or a twist and we would not pick it up. They made some plays on us defensively.”
“We like to mix it up on defense and make kids on the other team see something different,” Harris said. “You have to be able to execute.”
The teams traded punts as the fourth quarter started.
Washington took over at its own 29 and this drive looked similar to its last scoring foray, this time scoring in six plays.
Hennigan snared a 23-yard reception. Ikerd ran for 11 yards. Hinrichsen caught two passes for 26 yards that bookended an Ikerd run.Turner ran up the middle for a 12-yard TD and a 24-22 lead with 8:32 on the clock.
Turner ran 10 times for 109 yards and three TDs. He was 15 of 30 passing for 297 yards. Tristin Westphal-Edwards had 48 yards on six carries. Ikerd ran eight times for 33 yards. Hinrichsen had eight receptions for 119 yards.
The teams traded punts again, then Fairfield started a drive on the Demons’ 46.
Hennigan had four offensive receptions for 62 yards, but the most crucial catch was his interception with under 3 minutes remaining.
“I don’t know what my best catch was,” Hennigan said. “That is for someone else to decide.”
The Trojans got the ball back again, but Kyle Dallmeyer came up with a sack that put the Demons on their own 13. A desperate attempt at a pass was knocked away by Hennigan. A pass and lateral was also stopped by Hennigan and the Demons had their fifth win.
“Maybe we are not the most intimidating team out there,” Hennigam said. “People seeing us on film probably don’t think we are much of a team. They haven’t seen what we have done all summer long and the way we come together on Friday night under the lights. Coach Harris always tells us that the bright lights just reveal all the hard work we put in during the dark. A lot of people outside the program did not expect a lot of us this year. As seniors, we are a hard-working group of guys. We love each other. We have been playing together since seventh grade. I think we play together as a team as good as anybody.”
“Our seniors just played their butts off,” Harris said. “Walker Ikerd went in there like a junkyard dog. My seniors just rose up in the second half. Tristan Allender had a great second half. Kyle had a great sack at the end, It was awesome, just awesome for those guys. I’m just thrilled with our effort.”
Players may not have a lot of size outwardly or physically, but mentally and inside their chest, there is a lot of brain power and heart that goes into these Demons.
Fairfield is 4-4 and 2-2 in the district with a game against Solon remaining. The Demons are 5-3 and 3-1 and end the regular season at Mt. Pleasant, which is also 5-3, 3-1.