EPWORTH — On Friday night, the lights were bright, the rain was slight and the Demons gave it all up their might, but the Bobcats won the fight.
Washington, ranked No. 10, lost its first-round playoff high school football game to Western Dubuque, 42-10, to end the 2019 season with a 7-3 record.
The Bobcats (10-0) advance to play North Scott, a 9-3 winner over Cedar Rapids Xavier, last year’s Class 3A champion.
“I think we got beat by a team that played better than us,” Washington head coach James Harris said. “I’m disappointed in how we performed. Performance is directly related to preparation. which means I didn’t do my job has the head coach good enough.”
Most football games are won by the lineman, but on a night when the temperature is 35 degrees and it rains during the first half, the linemen are even more valuable. The Western Dubuque offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage.
“The guys up front on both sides of the ball made a special effort to take over the football game,” Western Dubuque coach Justin Penner said. “It was just 11 guys getting after it all night.”
The Demons got the ball first but punted after three plays.
Ben Bryant went 36 yards on the Bobcats’ first play and quarterback Calvin Harris scored from the 12 three plays later.
The Demons picked up a first down on their next drive, but punted. The Demons forced a punt, but the offense started on its own 3. Facing a fourth down at its own 12, Luke Turner gained enough for the first down, but Washington punted four plays later.
Western Dubuque faced a fourth-and-6 on its ensuing drive, but converted, then scored for plays later for a 14-0 lead with 7 minutes, 35 seconds left in the second quarter.
Washington drove from its own 27 to the WD 11, then kicked a field goal by Zac Stout with 2:28 left in the half, but WD returned the kick 60 yards and scored three plays later to take a 21-3 lead into halftime.
The return cancelled any momentum the Demons achieved.That and the first WD play from scrimmage were the major plays of the first half.
“Those hurt,” Coach Harris said. “The first (scrimmage) play, which was their outside zone, we lost contain, and it was similar circumstances on their kickoff return, where they doubled our contain guy, breaking the return. Those were frustrating.”
The Bobcats got the ball first in the second half and went 67 yards in eight plays for a 28-3 lead.
The Demons picked up two first downs but failed to convert a fourth down.
The Bobcats used seven running plays to go 61 yards for a 35-3 lead.
Washington answered by driving from its own 20 to the Bobcat 28 but an unsportsman-like penalty caused the drive to stall.
A 53-yard Harris rush scored on the first play of the fourth quarter started a running clock.
Washington added a late score on a pass from Luke Turner to Ethan Hunt.
Washington scored 409 points in the regular season and “that is pretty incredible,” Penner said. “They were the best scoring offense in the class. Hats off to our guys defensively.”
“They did a good job,” Coach Harris said. “They held our talented offense in check pretty well. They are a well-coached, talented unit.”
Turner had 165 yards rushing on 30 carries, but was 5 of 21 passing. Hunt had three receptions for 33 yards and Spencer Sotelo caught two passes for 32 yards.
Brady Knutson and Dillan Sanders each had nine total tackles to lead the Demon defense and Knutson recovered a fumble.
“We were really close to breaking a lot of big plays and, unfortunately, we gave up too many,” Coach Harris said. “The playoffs were part of our goal, but not all of it. I am disappointed we came up short on Friday. But losing is a powerful teacher, so it is important to learn from this experience. I am incredibly proud of my team. Our players put in a tremendous amount of time, work commitment and emotion and have invested themselves in trying to represent our team, school and community the right way.”