Washington drills Potters, moves to 7-0

Bryan Veginski
Bowling over the Potters: Washington senior Colton Underwood carries the ball in first-quarter action Friday in a Mid-Illini Conference football game at Carper Field. Underwood was the leading rusher with 134 yards in a 36-7 Panther win.

By scoring nine points in 10 seconds, the Washington football team stayed perfect on the season.

The Panthers shut out Morton for the first 44:25 Friday in a 36-7 Mid-Illini Conference victory at Carper Field on the Potters’ Homecoming.

Washington (7-0, 6-0), the No. 3 ranked team in Class 5A in the Associated Press state poll, clinched a share of the league crown.

“Defensively, I thought we played really well,” WCHS head coach Darrell Crouch said of a unit that did not allow a first down until the second half.

Not only did the defenders stall Morton’s offense, they also set up the Panther offensive with short fields.

On a slick field in chilly temperatures, Washington forced Potter quarterback Tyler Lundeen into a 2-for-16 start in the passing column with two interceptions.

Washington’s Connor Underwood picked off a pass on the Potters’ first possession, keeping his feet inbounds like a receiver.

But after a 16-yard completion from Panther QB Isaac Fisher to Robert Izaguirre, the visitors fumbled on the next play.

Beginning deep in its own territory, Morton yielded two points as Randy Bertelsen of Washington brought down Lundeen in the end zone for a safety.

The Panther lead quickly swelled to 9-0 with 9:18 left in the first quarter as Ryan Grebner returned the ensuing free kick 65 yards, untouched, for a touchdown.

On the first play of the second period, Colton Underwood thwarted a Potter screen by intercepting the short pass and rumbling 20 yards for a TD.

After holding Morton (3-4, 3-3) without a first down on the next series, Washington went back to work.

Fisher was 4-for-4 on the drive, hitting four different receivers, and picked up a first down on an 11-yard scramble.

On third down, Justin Riley dashed seven yards to pay dirt for a 23-0 Panther advantage with 8:07 remaining before intermission.

Washington was not done in the first half as it marched 85 yards in 1:07 for its fourth TD of the night.

Izaguirre made a 40-yard reception on a pass from Colton Underwood before Underwood bolted 29 yards on a run.

Panther Dylan Newbury then collected a 16-yard scoring strike, moving from right to left after the catch to cross the goal line.

Washington resumed its dominance in the second half.

Colton Underwood carried the ball twice on the Panthers’ first third-quarter possession.

The second attempt went 47 yards for a TD at the 8:21 mark, catapulting him over 100 yards for the game.

Morton kept the ball for nearly six minutes in the fourth period before finally breaking through on a Dakota Klein four-yard TD run with 3:35 to go.

Underwood’s 134 rushing yards were more than the Potter team total.

Although Morton made some stops, the guests patience with the ground game paid dividends.

“We tried to stay with the run as long as we could,” Crouch said.

Izaguirre paced all receivers with five catches for 72 yards. He also registered interception late in the first half.

Newbury added three receptions for 34 yards for Washington.

Fisher had only four incompletions in 13 attempts and threw for 81 yards.

The Panthers completed a 4-0 regular-season road record.

Ramadani was 4-for-5 on extra-point kicks and consistently gave Morton a long field with which to work.

Washington has outscored its first seven foes, 287-57, with only Canton and Pekin reaching double figures.

Outright crown sought: Washington concludes the Mid-Illini season at 7:30 p.m. Friday when East Peoria (5-2, 4-2) visits.

A victory over the co-third-place Raiders would net the Panthers the conference championship by themselves.

East Peoria’s losses have come to Metamora and Dunlap on consecutive weeks. It received a forfeit win at Woodruff after initially losing in the season opener to the Warriors.

With a week-nine date at Babcook Field and a probable home game in round one of the playoffs, Washington fans easily can pack the stands for the rest of October.