MT. PLEASANT — The fifth-ranked Washington football team put up 21 points before the Panthers could catch their breath on Friday night. The Demons forced an early turnover and scored on their first three possessions to beat Mt. Pleasant 41-27, stay unbeaten and spoil the Panthers’ homecoming festivities.
Washington forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. The Panthers were pushed back and Lucas Kroll jumped on the loose ball to give the Demons great field position at the Mt. Pleasant 25. The Demons would score on a 4-yard run by Trashaun Willis, the first of six total touchdowns for the Washington quarterback.
“Getting points on the board that early is something that, if you want to win the game, you need to do,” said Willis. “Coming out here and recovering that fumble did so much for us. It gave us so much momentum.”
Washington followed that score with two more in the first quarter. Willis found Ethan Patterson on back-to-back touchdowns, one from 28-yards out and one from 3-yards out. After one period of play, it was 21-0 Demons.
Mt. Pleasant quarterback Jack Johnson led the team down the field in the second quarter and gave the team some life on a 3-yard touchdown run. That cut the lead to 21-7, where it would stay until halftime, but Mt. Pleasant could never cut the lead back to single digits. “They’re well coached and they do a lot of things right, so trying to back from being that far down was almost next to impossible,” Panther head coach Shawn Striegel said. “I’m proud of our kids. They fought and tried to get things done right.”
After stopping the Demons on their first possession of the 2nd half, Mt. Pleasant looked to be in business after Avery Scandridge converted a first down near midfield on a fake punt, but a holding call brought it back. After the Panthers punted it away, the Demons were able to capitalize on great field position again, breaking the game open at 28-7 on a 30-yard run by Willis.
Washington led by as much as 27 points when Willis found Spencer Sotelo on a 17-yard touchdown pass. The PAT failed but the Demons held a 34-7 advantage.
Mt. Pleasant would come clawing back once more. Johnson broke loose on a 46-yard touchdown run late in the third, and then he found Brevin Wilson on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 7:30 left in the fourth. Mt. Pleasant had a PAT mishap of their own, and it was 34-20 Washington.
The Demons put the game on ice on a 3-yard run by Willis with 2:09 remaining. Washington had to convert on a 4th-and-18 to get the ball inside the 5-yard line, and Willis cashed in on the next play.
Mt. Pleasant matched that score with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Brennen Bender less than 50 seconds later, but the ensuing onside kick failed and Washington walked out victorious.
“Any time you put 40 points on the board, you’ve got to feel good,” said Demon head coach James Harris. “I’m really proud of our guys. I think this was a huge step in our mission to be district champs.”
Willis went 13-for-19 for 129 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and ran for 95 yards and three scores on the ground. Wix Witthoft went for 50 yards on the ground.
Patterson ended the night with six catches for 65 yards and two scores. Sotelo caught four balls for 31 yards and one touchdown.
Washington’s defense was led by Kroll, who had 6.5 total tackles and one fumble recovery, which was the only take-away of the game for either team.
Despite losing the game, Mt. Pleasant outgained Washington by over 100 yards, thanks in large part to another huge night from Johnson. He threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 154 yards and two.
Chase Williamson caught four passes for 79 yards to lead Mt. Pleasant. Bender had 51 yards receiving and one touchdown, and Wilson had 45-yards receiving and one touchdown.
Klayton Kleinkopf led the Mt. Pleasant defense with 13.5 tackles on the night.
Washington is now 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the district. They’ll host Fairfield (1-3, 0-2) this week. Mt. Pleasant (2-2, 1-1) will travel to Keokuk (2-2, 1-1).