Two big plays, two big defensive stands ... and the Morris football team left Babcook Field on Friday with a big victory.
Scoring on a 92-yard kickoff return and an 89-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, the Redskins erased a 10-7 halftime deficit and beat Washington 21-10.
Washington came into the non-conference game ranked No. 2 in Class 5A by The Associated Press. The Panthers will certainly fall after losing to No. 6 Morris, which advanced to the Class 5A semifinals last fall. Washington played in the quarterfinals.
“Our kids played their butts off, but they made too many mistakes against a very good team, a very big team,” said Washington coach Darrell Crouch. “They know what they did wrong and the mistakes can be fixed.”
Washington led 10-7 at halftime thanks to 19-yard field goal on the final play of the half by Drew Yoder.
The Panthers (1-1) drove to the Morris 2-yard line but two passes by Caleb Fisher fell incomplete including one that was dropped in the end zone, and Washington had to settle for Yoder’s field goal.
Payton Voitik returned the second-half kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to put Morris (2-0) in front for the first time 14-10, and the Redskins never trailed again.
“Fourteen-point swing,” Crouch said about Washington’s inability to put the ball in the end zone at the end of the first half and the second-half kickoff return.
Washington reached the Morris 1-yard line late in the third quarter, but the drive ended because of a bad snap on third down and a sack of a scrambling Fisher on fourth down.
Morris scored on the second play of its ensuing possession on an 89-yard scamper by Kameron Dransfeldt with 2:11 to go in the third quarter.
Fisher finished 21-for-32 for 253 yards and a touchdown through the air, but he was intercepted three times, all in the second half.
Washington took a 7-0 lead when Fisher connected with a diving Logan Klein on a 4-yard touchdown pass on the game’s first drive. The Panthers went 80 yards in 13 plays, scoring with 6:09 to go in the first quarter.
Morris also drove a long way to tie the game 7-7. The Redskins scored on a 5-yard run by Tyler Petty, a 5-foot-8, 250-pound running back, with 7:53 to go in the second quarter, completing a 10-yard, 70-yard march.
Petty fits in perfectly with Morris’ offensive line, which has four returning starters who weigh a combined 1,120 pounds.
A fumble recovery by Klein after Petty had the ball ripped out of his hands gave Washington the ball on the Panthers’ 41-yard line with 5:11 left in the first half. Washington moved all the way to the Morris 2 before Yoder kicked his field goal.
Panthers running back Josh Schellenberg had 13 carries for 59 yards.
“We moved the ball well against them. We just couldn’t finish,” Crouch said.
Washington opened the season on the road with a 41-0 shellacking of Mahomet-Seymour, which was first among other teams receiving votes in the AP’s pre-season Class 5A poll.
“We had to forget that one after it was over, just like we have to forget this one,” Crouch said.
Morris beat Chicago DuSable 56-0 at home in its opener.
This was the third straight year Washington and Morris played during the regular season. Washington won 19-13 in overtime at home in 2015 and lost 20-3 last year at Morris.
Steve Stein can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.