Crazy Finish Sends Washington Demons to Football Championships
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
CEDAR FALLS In almost every championship run, you have to get lucky somewhere along the line. You have to catch that break that helps you win a ballgame.
Washington's lucky break came in the fourth quarter last night.
A fake punt, a forward fumble, what appeared to be a missed official's call on that forward fumble and a long touchdown pass moved the Demons past Solon, 14-9, in a Class 3A playoff semifinal at the UNI-
Dome. All those things came in exactly that order.
Tanner Knupp turned a short reception into a 50-yard TD that moves Washington (12-1) into next week's championship game against top-ranked Sioux City Heelan (13-0). It's the first finals appearance for the Demons.
Knupp caught a short out from quarterback Daryn Seibelius, turned and sprinted up the sideline for the winning points with 4:51 left. It was the second big play of the night from the senior, whose 52-yard touchdown run helped give Washington a 7-6 halftime lead.
The Demons were allowed the chance for the Seibelius-to-Knupp TD thanks to a completely bizarre play. On fourth-and-18, punter Mason Quigley decided to take off to the right side and run with a fake punt, getting 15 yards but being stopped shy of first down.
But he fumbled the football forward, with the ever-present Knupp falling on it right at the sideline 6 yards upfield. First down Washington.
Or was it?
Repeated replays on the UNI-Dome scoreboard showed Quigley's knee was on the turf before his fumble. One of the replays was frozen right as his knee touched down, much to the assumed dismay of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
Solon coaches and fans howled in protest at the replay, but the call stood.
These teams appeared so similar on paper coming in, not to mention physical appearance, with black and orange school colors and uniforms. They both lost the second week of the regular season and rolled off 10 wins in a row to get to this game.
They even run alike spread offenses out of the shotgun formation.
Solon had the first big play on its initial possession when Brandon Kramer took a punt snap, faked a kick and ran up the middle for four yards and a first down on 4th-and-3. The Spartans had a 1st-and-goal at the Washington 10, but quarterback Jacob Black was stuffed on three runs, forcing kicker Jackson Rushek to come on for a 29-yard field goal that he made with 3:43 left in the first quarter.
Washington's second possession ended with Solon cornerback Nathan Hawkins intercepting a Daryn Seibelius pass, but the Demons immediately returned the favor when safety Alex Coker picked off a Black pass. It was Black's second intercepted throw of the season.
The Spartans held a scant 121-114 yardage edge in the first half.