TOPEKA, Kan. – Yager Stadium was the site of yet another tight battle between Fort Hays State and Washburn on Saturday (Oct. 9). After the Tigers won two years ago in overtime, Washburn returned the favor and clipped the Tigers 23-20 in the extra period. FHSU settled for a field goal on the first possession of overtime and Washburn ended the game with 19-yard touchdown pass.
Fort Hays State had ample opportunities to extend a first-half lead but wound up only leading 7-0 at halftime. A 5-yard pass from Chance Fuller to Hunter Budke accounted for all of the lone touchdown of the first half. On the Tigers' first drive of the second quarter, they were stopped on 3rd-and-1 just past midfield and punted the ball away. On the next drive, the Tigers marched the ball to the Washburn 6-yardline and settled to kick a field goal that was blocked. Both teams chewed up clock in the first half as the Tigers had the ball only three times and the Ichabods had it four times.
Washburn evened the score on its first possession of the second half with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Schurig to James Letcher, Jr. The Tigers responded when Fuller found Josh Okechukwu for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 4:35 to go in the third quarter. After a Washburn field goal, the Tigers went into the fourth quarter with a 14-10 lead.
A pair of penalties led to an FHSU drive stalling out early in the fourth quarter and then Washburn came up with a momentum-changing play when Schurig found Peter Afful down the left sideline for a 65-yard touchdown pass. The Ichabods led for the first time in the game, 17-14, with 10:33 to play in regulation.
The Fort Hays State defense came up with the stop it needed with 5:11 to go in the game and the offense had a chance to give the Tigers a victory in regulation. The Tigers marched the ball to the Washburn 14, where it had a pair of chance to push the ball deep on second and third down. But Tiger receivers were unable to haul in the big catch needed and FHSU settled for a 31-yard field goal from Fernando Avila-Castro with 58 seconds to go. After the Ichabods' first play on the ensuing drive did not gain much, they played conservative to go to overtime.
The Tigers got the ball first in overtime and came up a yard short of a first down. They settled for an Avila-Castro 33-yard field goal on 4th-and-1. Washburn had 3rd-and-4 from the 19 on their possession of the ball and Schurig found Letcher over the middle as he scooped a low pass from hitting the ground for the game-winning touchdown.
Fort Hays State outgained Washburn 386-357 in the game. Fuller threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns and Okechukwu had his first 100-yard receiving game as a Tiger with 108 yards on five catches. The rushing game struggled to get going as the team produced just 67 yards, led by Adrian Soto with 40. Myles Menges and John Johnson led the Tigers with 14 tackles each, while Jhimon Preston added 10. The Tigers had a season-high six sacks in the game, led by Javaris Sanders with two.
The Tigers moved to 3-3 on the season, while Washburn improved to 4-2. The Tigers are back at home next week to take on Central Oklahoma on Saturday night (Oct. 16) at 7 pm.