Demons pummel Pella, get redemptionDemons headed to UNI Dome for the second time in school history to face Solon (11-1)
PELLA — Sixth-ranked Washington traveled to No. 3 Pella as underdogs. Recent history wasn’t on its side with two losses to Pella by a touchdown, this year and last season.
However, this time Washington showed the juggernaut that it has morphed into this season, winning a school-record 11 games along the way.
It dominated the Little Dutch in a 28-0 blowout, after coming on strong in the second half, which was rare for a team typically known for its fast starts.
Matchups between these teams bring low-scoring games, but few could have predicted Washington to shut out Pella on its home field in the quarterfinals.
“I look at the scoreboard and see a goose egg for Pella,” said quarterback Daryn Sebelius. “It is the greatest feeling in the world. It is so surreal right now. I’m just trying to live the moment.”
After Thomas Bump forced and recovered a fumble at his team’s 49 with 5:39 left in the first quarter, Washington went three-and-out.
Pella sustained its best drive of the night on the next possession.
The Dutch went to the air with senior Nathan Clayberg hauling in a 34-yard catch to set his team up for first-and-goal from the 5.
Pella committed a 5-yard penalty and was then held at the 2 on third down by the Washington defense.
At the start of the second half Pella looked set to score first on a chip shot field goal of 22 yards. That was until senior Garrett Covington jolted through the line to block the attempt.
“It was huge,” said Washington head coach Randy Schrader. “That was like having a pep assembly on your 50-yard line. That was big — they came away with nothing.”
The Demons started from the 37 with 6:22 remaining the half as it looked to get on the board first.
Senior running back Alex Coker had a 21-yard run to Pella’s 42. An illegal procedure pushed Washington back 5 yards. After Washington moved the ball up to the 35 for fourth-and-3, the Demons made arguably the biggest play of the season.
On a Gator route, senior Tanner Knupp came out of the backfield and made a catch before breaking free down the sideline for the game’s opening score of 35 yards. The drive took 1:45.
“I hit my foot, I thought,” Knupp said. “I was tripping, I got out on the flat, thought someone was behind me. I turned and there was nobody for 35 yards.”
Senior Jacob Green gave Washington its second takeaway of the game with a pick at the 47 of Pella and returned to the 40.
It marked the eighth time in 12 games — including for the second time against Pella — that Washington has turned its opponent over multiple times.
The Demons took over at their 42 with 8:24 left in the second quarter after a block in the back.
Senior Carl Sivels had two runs of 8 and 13 during the drive, junior Daryn Sebelius had a 10- and 13-yard scamper and Coker had a 5-yard pick up. Coker capped off the seven-play, 2:48 drive by punching it in from 6 yards after taking a pitch from Sebelius.
This set up the Demons for their biggest sequence of plays. At the outset of the fourth Washington was pinned third-and-16 from their own 6, when Coker put the team on his back to put Pella away.
“He took it over,” Schrader said. “The O-line and Coker did. He decided he was going to run, give him a little bit of room. It was crunch time. He just ran like a beast.”
First, Coker converted the third down with a physical 25-yard run. Coker had another burst with a 21-yard pickup to the Dutch 48.
Coker exploded for his third gain of at least 20. Coker carried the ball for the fifth time of the drive. This set up Knupp from the 9-yard line for a 21-0 lead with 9:49 remaining.
“It’s amazing,” Knupp said. “We have worked four hard years with Schrader. It’s a dream to be in the final four for Class 3A. It has been a dream since we were 5 years old.”
Coker completed the 28-0 blowout with a 6-yard score with 5:19 left.
“Washington played a great game,” Pella head coach Jay McKinstrey said. “They didn’t make any mistakes. They have a great football team.”
Washington has now beaten all of its opponents by at least three touchdowns, with the lone exception being a loss to Pella Sept. 6.
“Sometimes you don’t get a second chance,” Schrader said. “We were fortunate to get one. We felt we had gotten better as a football team and it showed up.”
Coker finished the game with 127 yards rushing on 17 attempts.
Sebelius had 118 rushing and passing yards, combined.
The Dutch were without their first-string quarterback Noah Clayberg in the closing half, who dislocated his elbow.
It didn’t matter. A sound team performance from Washington showed it was easily the better team of the night.
“We are a completely different team from Week 2,” Sebelius said. “We have grown so much as a unit. It is awesome. We are going to the Dome.”
Washington (11-1) will face Solon (11-1) at 8:21 p.m. Thursday in Cedar Falls at the UNI Dome.