Football finishes season in style, routs Bridgewater 41-7
On a bittersweet Saturday afternoon at Francis Field, the Washington University football team closed out its season with a 41-7 win over Bridgewater College as 18 seniors suited up in the Red and Green for the final time.
The game started out well for the Bears, as the defense came out of the gate with a big play. On just the third play of the game, junior defensive back Chandler Elmore intercepted a pass by Bridgewater’s quarterback. Two plays later, the Wash. U. offense found the end zone. Sophomore quarterback Johnny Davidson connected with freshman wide receiver Nick Cione for a 28-yard touchdown strike, and the Red and Green drew first blood.
The defense continued to click during the next possession, as key backfield tackles from sophomore linebacker Jarrod Huther, Elmore and senior defensive back Andrew Ralph forced Bridgewater to punt the ball. After being gifted good field position by their defense, the Red and Green attack was determined to capitalize. Wash. U. opted for a more run-heavy style of play during this drive, with senior running back David Nees leading the charge. On a second-and-eight from the Eagles’ 48-yard line, Nees broke through the secondary for a 33-yard run to put the Bears in the red zone. Two plays later, he completed the six-play, 50-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown rush.
At this point, Bridgewater was determined to put points on the board after the Bears’ hot start. After a 15-yard penalty on the Bears for roughing the passer, the Bridgewater quarterback showed his mobility, breaking away for an 18-yard run. Two plays later, he broke out another big run, this one for 24 yards and an Eagles touchdown.
However, the Bears came prepared for a shootout, as the offense continued to rumble down the field during the next drive. On second-and-three from the Eagles’ 27-yard line, Davidson connected with sophomore running back John Fisher for a touchdown pass to make the lead 14 points again.
The two offenses both began to simmer down towards the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, with each team having to punt. With 12:31 to go in the half, Wash. U. put together a seven-play, 93-yard drive, capped off by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Davidson to junior wide receiver Jason Singer. Both defenses held strong for the remainder of the half, and Wash. U. entered the locker room up 28-7.
After a very strong showing in the first half, the Bears knew they would have to match that intensity in order to come away with the win. As the second half begun, both teams came away from their first two offensive possessions empty-handed. The Eagles’ defense was able to keep Wash. U. from converting on a fourth-and-two, and the Wash. U. defense forced Bridgewater to punt the ball.
The Bears took the field again with just under 11 minutes to go in the third quarter. The offense put together a six-play, 31-yard drive before senior kicker Daniel Kalvaitis converted on a 34-yard field goal attempt, making the score 31-7.
The Eagles took the field again with nine minutes to go in the quarter, this time with quarterback Jay Scroggins replacing the struggling Brendon Maturey. On second-and-13 from the Bears’ 46, the Wash. U. defense came up with another big play. Scroggins’s pass was intercepted by junior linebacker Jake Coon, forcing the Eagles off the field. Five plays later, Davidson connected with Singer again for a 42-yard touchdown, immediately turning the defense’s strong play into points on the offensive end. After another Kalvaitis field goal, the game ended 41-7.
Bears’ head coach Larry Kindbom reflected on the win, describing how much the senior class meant to the program. Kindbom explained how one senior’s pregame speech motivated the team to finish out the year strong.
“Ralph spoke to our team this morning, and it was absolutely awesome,” Kindbom said. “It was really inspiring for the guys to hear one of their teammates bring some semblance to the season.”
Kindbom also explained how Ralph stressed to the team that they were all like a group of brothers.
“He reiterated the relationships and bonds the team had, and then tied that back in with team excellence,” Kindbom said.
Through a season of ups and downs, Kindbom said that the biggest thing he took away from the season was his respect for the scholar-athletes.
“Losses can tarnish the athletic experience if you’re not mature enough to handle them,” Kindom said. “But these guys still kept their edge and left everything they had out on the field.”
Though the season did not end with a parade, Kindbom was still proud of his team and the senior leadership they had. His ambitions going forward remain the same: “Our goal is to play for a national championship. Just relax and enjoy the process.”