Demons turn ball over twice in final 94 seconds to help Hounds stay unbeaten
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WASHINGTON – The story lines out of Fort Madison’s 23-19 win over Washington Friday night are numerous, but in the end it was a couple sophomores that sealed the deal.
With 26 seconds left in the game, on 1st and 10 from the Fort Madison 20-yard line, sophomore lineman Ike Thacher sneaked through the Washington line and chased quarterback Ethan Patterson to the Demons’ sideline.
Under the pressure Patterson hurried a pass over the heads of two receivers near the sideline, where Bloodhound sophomore Henry Wiseman was patrolling the back corner of the endzone and intercepted the throw. He scrambled out of the endzone to keep the clock running, and then went down at about the six with 23 seconds left.
The Hounds were able to take a knee twice and run out the clock on a game that seemed to be destined to go to the Demons down the stretch.
It was the second Washington turnover in the final minute and half.
After Fort Madison scored on a wild 37-yard pass play with five minutes remaining, Washington would take the kick and drive back to the Hounds’ 16 in eight plays.
With Fort Madison on their heals, Washington running back Ethan Zieglowski would fumble right in front of the Demons’ sideline and the Hounds would recover on what would have been a Washington first down inside the 15.
The Demon weren’t ready to give in, however, and would hold Jakob McGowan in check on two gut runs trying to eat up clock. Washington still had two timeouts and was able to stall Fort Madison without a first down forcing a Xander Wellman punt.
In another crazy sequence, the Demons were whistled for an illegal block on the punt play, but the same ref through is hat when he caught a Bloodhound making a horsecollar grab. Since the horsecollar and the illegal block both came after the change of possession, the offsetting penalties resulted in Washington keeping the ball at their own 27 with :37 on the clock.
Patterson would pick up yardage on first down but with time running out the Demons went to the air resulting in Wiseman’s pick.
“As cliche as it sounds, it sucks that there’s a team that has to take an ‘L’ on that because they played lights out, Doherty said of the back-and-forth affair. “(Washington’s) a fast, physical football team, with a wonderful staff, and they’re going to do some things.”
Doherty said the win was a gut-check for players and the staff having to navigate the final two possessions.
“I’m proud of our kids and the coaching staff, too. They’re probably not happy with me right now because there was some real back and forth going on in the headset,” Doherty said.
“Clock management is something we think about a lot and practice, but until you’re in that situation with adrenaline flowing and your kids’ hard work on the line – ooof, I’ve honestly never been in that situation like that before as a coach, and I’m glad it worked out.”
Washington scored first on their first possession when Patterson hooked up with Lucas Kroll on a 54-yard touchdown down the Hounds’ sideline. Safety Xander Wellman made a play on the ball and it got just over his outstretched hand into Kroll’s who ran untouched the rest of the way. The 2-point try failed.
Fort Madison would respond with its own big play on the next possession. After Landes Williams threw a jet screen to the right to Kane Williams for a couple yards, Jakob McGowan slipped off right tackle and cut to the Hounds’ sidelines racing 51 yards for the score. Wellman would add the extra point.
Washington got two plays into their next possession before Tate Johnson picked off Zieglowski on a half back pass at the Demons’ 25.
The Hounds would go just seven yards on the next three plays and Wellman would come in and boot a 28-yard field goal that just cleared the bar for a Fort Madison 10-6 lead that would hold up until halftime.
The Demons would try to take the lead in the 2nd quarter and looked to have done so when Patterson again got on top of the Hounds’ secondary for an 80-yard TD, but a holding penalty negated the play.
A couple of exchanged four-and-outs left the Hounds with the ball at their own 17 and 4:24 left in the half.
Fort Madison put together a 12-play drive highlighted by Gavin Wiseman fighting away a ball from a defender on a 24-yard pass play to the Demons’ 13.
McGowan would get taken down for a 4-yard loss and then Williams called his own number on three straight to get to 1st and goal at the 3 with :23 left in the half.
Fort Madison went to a rare 3-back set and gave the ball to Teague Smith on a counter, but the ball popped out and Washington recovered at the 1.
The Demons tried to catch lightning in the bottle, but it almost backfired in a wild end to the half. Patterson took the ball and found room running to his left. An interior Hound grabbed his jersey on the way by causing the ball to pop out. The Hounds recovered and advanced the ball back to the three with about six seconds left, but the referees ruled Patterson in the grasp, and ruled the play down to end the half.
Fort Madison received to start the third but were stalled on the possession. The forced punt was blocked and Washington took over at Fort Madison’s 39. A 32-yard pass play set up 1st and goal and Patterson would sneak in for a 13-10 Washington lead.
Fort Madison answered on an 8-play, 62-yard scoring strike highlighted by Johnson’s catch on 4th and 3 for a first down at the Demon 37. Johnson would get rewarded with another target, this time on a fly route down the Demons’ sideline. Johnson hauled the throw in over his right shoulder at the 5 and scampered in for the score.
The Hounds would get a stop on the next series with Gavin Wiseman breaking up a long pass play on 3rd and 15 to force another punt.
Fort Madison would then put together another clock-eater going 33 yards in 12 plays. Back-to-back penalties pushed Fort Madison back to to their own 44, but Wiseman would haul in a 24-yard strike on 3rd and 21 to keep things going.
The drive would stall at the Hounds’ 22, where Wellman, who had been cramping in his right leg, missed a 37-yard field goal attempt giving Washington the ball at the 20.
Both teams would punt away their next possessions before Washington would take over at their own 36 after a Bloodhound punt.
Two plays later Patterson rolling to his right under heavy pressure from Tanner Settles heaved up an air ball that got over safety Mikey DiPrima trying to make a pick and landed in the waiting hands of Zieglowski who turned to open field and ran 61 yards for the score and the 19-17 lead with 6:36 left in the game.
Johnson, who has two kickoff returns for touchdowns the season, didn’t get a sniff from Washington on kicks Friday night, which resulted in some favorable field position with the Demons regularly squibbing it to the right side.
Starting at their own 36, Landes Williams took a 6-yard sack on 1st and 10 and then found Gavin Wiseman for a seven-yard jet screen to the right. On 3rd and 9 from the Demons’ 37, Williams rolled to his left under pressure and threw down the Hounds’ sideline where younger brother Kane had gotten behind his receiver, with Johnson also lurking in the area.
Williams caught the pass running backward over a Demons defender and turned to an empty field and sprinted down the sidelines. He was almost tripped up at the four with a Washington defender flying in to catch the play, but Williams kept his feet and slipped into the endzone. The Hounds 2 pt. attempt was turned away for a 23-19 score setting up the Demons’ final two possessions.
Landes Williams said he just saw both receivers in the area and didn’t want to hold onto the ball for another sack.
“I was in the pocket and I had to roll out with some pressure, but I was looking downfield and saw Tate and Kane down there so I just threw it in that direction and Kane came down with it,” Williams said.
It was the second time the two had hooked up on touchdowns this year. Kane said that was his biggest varsity football moment yet, and said catching it from his brother made it more special.
“That was my first really crazy varsity moment, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to have been from anybody else.” Kane said.
Doherty said the moment was born out of a little older brother scolding.
“The funny part of that is early in the game, Landes was scrambling and Kane didn’t go high and find a spot, and Landes let him have it. Big brother laid down the hammer and little brother listened and came through,” Doherty said.
Landes Williams was 18 of 26 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 56 yards on 12 carries. Johnson had seven receptions for 72 yards and a score. Kane Williams had six receptions for 95 yards and the touchdown. Gavin Wiseman had five catches for 64 yards. Jakob McGowan had 79 yards on 14 carries.
Defensively Daniel Sokolik led the Hounds with seven tackles, three for losses and one quarterback sack. Teague Smith had 6.5 tackles. McGowan and Ike Thacher also had a sack each for the Bloodhounds. Johnson and Henry Wiseman each had interceptions.
Sokolik was regularly disrupting the Demons read-option sets and has been a big part of the Hounds’ success on the line this year.
“I have to use a lot more effort than in the past because I’m a lot smaller than other big men. But I have to say a lot about the other defensive lineman helping me by creating spaces in there,” Sokolik said.
“They needed to me step up and fill in because we lost some valuable lineman last year. I put on some weight during quarantine, so I just stepped up for the job.”
Landes Williams was frank about the play after the win.
“That was interesting – because we didn’t play very well,” he said. “They adjusted to us well at halftime and started some blitz packages, but we were getting four or five yards per run early.”
Williams missed Johnson on two seam routes down the middle of the field in the first half.
“We were getting open looks down field and I just missed on a couple throws to Tate that I’m sure would have been scores. That’s on me.”
Doherty said Williams assessment of the Hounds play is spot on.
“He’s right on. We all felt off. I made some bad play calls off certain series and had to collect myself and say ‘Derek – what are you doing?’ I don’t know what it is about this place, but again we couldn’t find our sync all game,” he said.
“It’s a credit to the whole team that we didn’t get into a rhythm, but still competed with a really tough ball club,” Doherty said.
The Hounds (4-0) hit the road again next week when they take on Mt. Pleasant, who knocked off West Burlington 24-20 Friday night.