Turning back the clock
The faces were older, but another chapter was written in the rivalry between Mt. Pleasant and Washington on Saturday night.
Alumni from both schools clashed on the football field, with former students from as far back as the Class of 1984 participating in the game, but for three hours that night, they all looked like they were back in
“It was awesome,” Mt. Pleasant alumni coach Bob Jensen said. “You can talk about rivalry and what is the biggest rivalry and stuff, but if we are playing Washington and Fairfield, that’s what a rivalry is all about.”
The game wasn’t so bad itself.
It came down to the final plays of the game, but Mt. Pleasant’s Jordan Cotton (Class of 2009), who also returned kicks at the University of Iowa, picked off the last effort heave from Washington as the Demon’s fell just short, 21-20 at Case Field.
“It was a blast, almost priceless,” 2014 Washington graduate Tanner Knupp said. “I already forgot what the score was, because I never dreamed of playing for some of those guys I always looked up to. If that’s the part of it, you know you had fun.”
Mt. Pleasant struck first in the game as Panther running back Nikolas Kerr (Class of 1995) rushed for 26 yards on the drive, and Cotton capped it off with a four-yard touchdown run.
The Demons didn’t wait to respond. Knupp picked up 16 scrambling yards as a quarterback, as the Demons drove the ball 66 yards, along with getting helped on a fourth and 8 when the referees threw a flag for roughing the passer. From 4 yards out, Knupp plunged into the end zone, but the extra point did not go in, making it 7-6.
Mt. Pleasant went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but a bad snap sent the ball over the punter’s head, and Washington took over at the Panther 2-yard line.
It only took three plays for Joe Hoback to score on the quarterback keeper, sliding in to the end zone under a big Panther hit on third down. The Demons’ extra point attempt started off with a bad snap, but Knupp decided to pick up the ball and run it in, giving Washington two points, making it 14-7 going into halftime.
In the second half, the Panthers went three-and-out, but on the punt, it was Washington making the special team mistake, as the punt was muffed, and recovered by Cotton at the Demon 18.
Five plays later, Kerr punched the ball from 1-yard out to tie the game up at 14.
Washington wasn’t able to get anything going on their next drive, but after giving the ball back to Mt. Pleasant, Travis Brown (Class of 2003) picked off Tyson Unkrich (Class of 2005) to give Washington the ball at its own 48 yard-line.
Facing a fourth and 12 at the 30-yard line, Washington couldn’t convert, giving the ball back to Mt. Pleasant.
Cotton found the end zone again for the Panthers, this time from 5 yards out, but Washington didn’t have to wait long for a score.
Landon Coker took the ensuing kickoff all the way back for a touchdown, but again the extra point was no good, making it 21-20.
Washington’s Travis Brown picked off Mid-Prairie two plays later, and it seemed all the momentum was in the hands of the Demons.
In five plays, the Demons drove the ball 60 yards to make it first and goal from the 5. The next pass was thrown over the middle and tipped by a Mt. Pleasant linebacker, and despite a diving effort from Washington’s Adam Miller, the ball was incomplete.
On the next play, Washington fumbled the ball at the 5, and Mt. Pleasant recovered with only a few minutes to play and a 21-20 lead.
The Panthers picked up a couple of first downs, but an incomplete pass on third down stopped the clock with 1:38 left to play.
Washington took over at its own 40 with one timeout left, and on first down, nearly had the ball picked off.
Miller had another chance over the middle on second down, but the ball was jarred loose by a Mt. Pleasant defender.
On third down, the Demons heaved it deep, but Cotton took the right angle and picked it off to end the game.
“It was a lot of fun,” Cotton said. “I haven’t been on the field for a few months, so it was good to get back out there. Especially since my older sister lives here now so we are a big family. We aren’t enemies anymore, just opponents.”
The teams didn’t have many practices to prepare for the game, only starting in the beginning of April, but one of the coaches for Washington, Don Miksch, said he was happy to see how everyone looked on the field.
“We like to have opportunities and at the end of the game that’s what you want, you want the ball in your hands,” Miksch said. “When you have that camaraderie after only practicing a couple times a week, the outcome is what it is. I can’t take anything away from these guys. I just wanted to show up and make sure they looked OK.”
Now that this game is done, there are already talks about getting one set up for next season going on, and the Washington team is wanting to go down to Mt. Pleasant and get a
“We love the rivalry, and we respect it and everything they do and they respect what we do,” Demon coach Steve Roth said. “We wanted to win the game, but we wanted to play well and they just capitalized on one more turnover than us. They were happy to come away unscathed.”