The opening drive set the tone.
Washington needed just five plays to span 76 yards, and combined splash gains with tough yards as quarterback Jack Schelhaas lowered his shoulder to barrel across the goal line for a 20-yard touchdown run.
It took barely 90 seconds for Washington to establish that big plays were not only possible but probable against an overmatched O’Gorman front.
The Warriors churned 408 yards of offense, much of it on the ground, and sealed the game with a 16-play, 98-yard scoring drive to upend the Knights 39-23
“Last week we weren’t very physical,” said Washington offensive tackle Matt Farniok, “so this game we really wanted to make a statement saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to run the ball, and you’re not going to stop us.’”
Chayden Fitzsimmons led the ground effort, rushing 32 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns, while Schelhaas added 92 yards and two scores on 11 attempts.
Through the air, Schelhaas was 10 of 14 for 131 yards and a touchdown, a 10-yard strike to Ty Smith with four seconds left in the first half.
“Jack made some great throws, and that touchdown to Ty was a veteran throw,” coach Chad Stadem said.
After ripping Yankton for six touchdowns last week, Schelhaas had a number of signature plays again Friday, from the aforementioned touchdowns to a couple of first down conversions on the 98-yard scoring drive. The senior bullied his way through five broken tackles for a 23-yard gain, and two plays later connected with receiver Logan Uttecht on a 19-yard gain after being flushed from the pocket.
“It’s always fun when your quarterback’s ready to knock someone over,” Farniok said. “It’s a great energy boost.”
Defensively, the Warriors limited O’Gorman’s attack on the edge, with defensive backs and linebackers swarming to the ball and disrupting plays behind the line of scrimmage. O’Gorman’s Luke Fritsch was limited to a season-low 76 rushing yards on 16 carries, and fullback Dodi Makwinja finished with 48 yards on 13 attempts.
That’s not to say this contest wasn’t close. O’Gorman answered the Warriors opening drive with a quick strike of its own, a 48-yard touchdown pass from Fritsch to Jack Peery. Fritsch added another score on an 8-yard keeper late in the second quarter, a score which made it 19-14 Washington.
The third quarter turned out to be the Knights’ best. After allowing 312 yards of offense in the first half, O’Gorman chipped away at the lead while the Warriors fumbled and mustered a three-and-out on their only possessions in the third.
Kristian Jakowicz’s 44-yard field goal was followed three minutes later by another Fritsch TD pass to Peery, on a 4-yard fade. Washington held its lead, at 27-25, after a failed two-conversion.
The Warriors didn’t panic.
“I told the guys O’Gorman does a good job of making adjustments, and that we need to weather the energy in the third quarter,” Stadem said. “If we can weather that, and overcome some adversity in the third quarter, we were going to be fine in the fourth.”
An O’Gorman drive midway through the fourth stalled, setting up 4th and 20 from the Warrior 36-yard line. Warriors defensive back Peyton Garrow came down with Fritsch’s Hail Mary attempt, giving Washington the ball at their own 2-yard line.
The Warriors may have preferred the field position an incompletion would have afforded, but set their gaze on a long scoring drive. Sixteen plays later they sealed the game.
“If you can go 98 yards, a seven minute drive, and they know you’re running the football – that’s how you win,” Stadem said. “That’s you become a good team. I’m very proud of our guys.”
The win also served as an opportunity for Washington to assert itself again in the city scene.
“It gives us confidence that we can beat a bigger school, and beat a Sioux Falls school,” Schelhaas said. “I think it was two, three years that we hadn’t beat a Sioux Falls school. We weren’t focusing on that but that was always on the back of our minds.”
SFW—Jack Schelhaas 20 run (Brock Walker kick), 10:26
OG—Jack Peery 58 pass from Luke Fritsch (Kristian Jakowicz kick), 8:21
SFW—Chayden Fitzsimmons 3 run (Walker kick), 6:14
SFW—Josh Thomas 13 run, 10:04
OG—Fritsch 8 run (Jakowicz kick), 3:06
SFW—Ty Smith 10 pass from Schelhaas, 00:12
OG—Jakowicz 44 field goal, 5:02
OG—Peery 5 pass from Fritsch, 2:22
SFW—Schelhaas 1 run, 11:24
SFW—Fitzsimmons 7 run (Walker kick), 1:39
RUSHING: SFW: Fitzsimmons 32-149, Schelhaas 10-84, Josh Thomas 3-22, Ty Smith 1-8; OG—Fritsch 14-85, Dodi Makwinja 15-37, Ryan Scholten 2-11, Antonio Casiello 6-3
PASSING: SFW—Schelhaas 12-16-0-148; OG—Fritsch 11-22-1-138
RECEIVING: SFW—Logan Uttecht 7-82, Smith 3-50, Enalls 1-11, Fitzsimmons 1-5; OG: Peery 6-108, Casiello 4-29, Scholten 1-1