Dutch double up on DemonsPella completes closing half comeback win
The glass was half empty for the Washington football team, Friday, at Case Field.
It may have only lost 14-7 against No. 4 Pella, but it had a poor showing at home, in which it thoroughly was out-played on both sides of the ball.
But it was in the game up until the final whistle. With just more than three minutes remaining following a Pella score, Washington started from its own 18. This set the stage for its best drive of the game, in an otherwise lackadaisical night offensively, starting with the line.
"We got exposed offensively upfront," said head coach Randy Schrader. "They didn't play until that last drive, which is disappointing because we do a good job of coaching these guys up. We looked like we hadn't been coached."
With his best protection all night, junior quarterback Daryn Sebelius completed two passes for first downs and scrambled for two more.
Then came the play that decided the game. Sebelius threw to senior Gage Redlinger — both of whom linked up for the first touchdown of the game — who bobbled and dropped the ball at the 5-yard line.
With less than a minute remaining, Washington faced a fourth-and-5. Senior Alex Coker subsequently jumped offside on a crucial play that he shouldered the blame for.
"That was on me,” he said. “I was thinking about too much stuff. It happens. I just got to listen to the count and focus. I lost focus for a play."
With the ball pushed back another five yards, Washington was forced to throw a lofted pass that aimlessly hit the ground.
"It comes down to one play and we throw the ball out of the end zone," Schrader said. "We are trying to play basketball. Throw it up and have a jump ball to make something happen. We had Tanner Knupp open too on the slant earlier. We overthrew him. We have some work to do; we got exposed."
The Demons were the first team to get on the board with a touchdown with 8:51 left in the third. Sebelius threw a dart to Redlinger on the outside for a 70-yard score.
"Actually, the touchdown was a check, that was an audible," Schrader said. "We talked about that at halftime. We get in press coverage. They can check."
Pella proved to have the answer and composure to erase the lead. The mantra started with sophomore quarterback Noah Clayberg, who did most of his damage on the ground. He had a game-high 134 yards on 19 carries. He matched Washington's score with a 57-yard touchdown carry — his first of two scores — with 1:02 left in the third.
In the process he gave Pella all the momentum heading into the final period.
Midway through the quarter Pella orchestrated the game-winning drive with several clutch plays.
From its own 47-yard line, Pella picked up a first down on third-and-7. The play that decided the game was fourth-and-2 conversion in the red zone. There was another third-and-long but the Dutch advanced the ball to the 2-yard line, before Clayberg punched in the winning touchdown with 3:14 remaining.
The Demons battled to a 0-0 tie at the half, in which Pella drove deep several times only to turn the ball over twice and miss a field goal.
Senior Carl Sivels came up with a pick on the opening drive.
Later in the first quarter the Dutch coughed the ball up at the Demons' 38-yard line.
Junior Jeff Knupp earned a team-high 13 total tackles. Sebelius finished with just 137 yards on 6-fo-17 passing.
Schrader voiced the expectations for this program every time it steps on the field.
"We are going to work on toughness," Schrader said. “There are no moral victories. Maybe there were three years ago. We are well past that."
Washington hosts Fairfield in the district opener for both teams at 7:30 p.m., Friday, at Case Field.