By RICK PETERSON
Washburn University's football team wrapped up the 2022 regular season with a 37-20 MIAA win over Missouri Southern Saturday in Joplin, Mo.
The Ichabods, who recorded their seventh straight win over Southern, finished the regular season at 7-4 overall and in the MIAA.
The Ichabods scored first on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jared Taylor to James Letcher Jr. to go up 7-0 following the extra point by Kameron Lake with 1:57 to play in the opening quarter. The five-play scoring drive was set up by a Micah Skebo interception return of 42 yards down to the Missouri Southern 26-yard-line setting the Ichabods up just outside of the redzone.
After the Ichabods forced a Lion punt on their next drive, the Ichabods marched 65 yards in 13 plays for a 2-yard Tyler Bowden score to push the WU lead to 14-0 with 9:28 to go in the first half.
On the Lions' next drive, after the Ichabods tried an onside kick, the Lions scored on a 43-yard touchdown pass to cut their deficit to 14-7.
It only took six plays for the Ichabods to go back up two scores when Taylon Peters scored on a 4-yard run as Washburn stretched its lead back to 14 at 21-7 midway through the second quarter with the final points of the half.
After an Ichabod punt to open the second half, the Lions returned Jake Zeller's punt 83 for a touchdown as the Washburn lead shrunk to 21-13.
Washburn's next drive failed to produce a first down, but after Zeller's punt to the Missouri Southern 7-yard line, Washburn's Caeden Spencer blocked the Lion punt for a safety and a 23-13 Ichabod lead.
After the free kick by the Lions, Peters scored his second touchdown of the day on a 24-yard run to build a 30-13 Washburn lead with 6:17 to play in the third quarter.
The Lions scored with 12:46 to play in the game on a 1-yard score and on the ensuing Ichabod drive, they were picked off in the end zone, returning possession to the Lions with 6:57 to go.
The Ichabod defense held the Lions to a three-and-out setting up an 89-yard punt return by Letcher off of a 71-yard Missouri Southern punt.
The score was Letcher's second punt return for a touchdown this season and his fifth overall in an Ichabod jersey as Washburn pushed out to its final 37-20 advantage.
Peters finished with 83 rushing yards on 19 carries and while Taylor was 16 of 22 passing with two touchdowns and 215 yards. Letcher had six catches for 71 yards and a TD.
Defensively, the nation's leading tackler, Grant Bruner, had 10 tackles while adding an interception and a tackle for loss while Hayden product Brent Peavler had eight tackles. The Ichabods had eight tackles for loss in the game, with Daniel Piburn and Braden Rose each recording two. Rose had two of the Ichabods' three sacks in the game.
The Ichabods outgained the Lions 337 yards to 283 overall.