Fueled by an early offensive outburst, football blasts Chicago
The Washington University football team kicked off its fall season with a blowout of long-time rival University of Chicago on Saturday, 43-7, winning the teams’ fifth straight matchup and keeping control of the Founders Cup, which honors the victor of the first football game each year between teams in the University Athletic Association.
After winning the game’s coin toss, Chicago deferred the ball to Wash. U., who happily took the early opportunity to demonstrate themselves as a team to beat this year. After a booming kickoff forced the Bears to begin at their own 1-yard line, senior quarterback Johnny Davidson managed to push his team all the way down the field to before a Chicago linebacker blocked Wash. U. freshman Chris Vartanian’s first ever field goal attempt. This early roadblock did not prove insurmountable for the Bears, however, in any regard.
After forcing a Maroons three-and-out on the next drive, the Red and Green promptly opened the scoring with an eight-yard pass from Davidson to senior running back Emmanuel Engermann to make the score 7-0 in favor of the Bears. After Chicago failed a fourth down conversion on their ensuing drive, Davidson recorded his second touchdown of the quarter off a remarkable 28-yard pass completion to sophomore tight end Luke Wilkin, making the score 13-0. Wilkin ended his night with 62 total yards.
Wash. U. continued to showcase its stellar defensive prowess on the next drive as senior linebacker Jarrod Huther forced a fumble, leading soon to a 35-yard field goal from Vartanian. The score then stood at 16-0 with 12:09 left in the half. Huther would end up with 15 total tackles, leading the team.
Chicago finally managed to get on the board off of a couple of solid rushes, but the Bears’ Davidson returned the favor, scoring not once, but twice more before the end of the first half, once off an 18-yard completion to senior wide receiver Tim Matthiessen and another with a 10-yard pass to senior running back John Fisher. Matthiessen would follow through with a game high of 114 total receiving yards. Fisher would end his night with a game high of 86 rushing yards and a decent contribution catching the ball, ending with 33 receiving yards. These scores increased Wash. U.’s ever-soaring lead to 30-7 going into the intermission.
Fresh out of the locker room, a series of defensive stops and penalties on both sides lead to Chicago and Wash. U. exchanging punts to start off the second half of the game. The Bears, however, stopped the scoring drought and added on to their almost insurmountable lead with just over two minutes to play in the third as Matthiessen, after breaking some tackles, would take the ball an incredible 85 yards down field for his second touchdown of the game. At the end of three quarters, the score stood at 36-7.
In the final quarter of play, the Bears went on to add insult to injury with a 37-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Max Schieferdecker to sophomore Matt Moore to increase the lead to the eventual final score of 43-7. This 36-point differential is the largest point differential in Founders Cup history between the two teams since the year 1996, when Wash. U. shut out Chicago 41-0.
All and all, Wash. U.’s superb performance on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball helped them start off the year with a win. Davidson finished with 341 yards off of a 26-of-38 night, and he tied a career high with five touchdowns. The defense limited Chicago to 278 total yards, all while sacking the Maroons five times and forcing them to punt the ball five times throughout the course of the game.
After the bye week this upcoming weekend for the Red and Green, they will attempt to ride this positive momentum to prepare for a presumably tough No. 5 North Central College on Saturday, Sept. 21st at 5 p.m. on their home turf at Francis Field. The North Central Cardinals posted a 43-13 victory against Christopher Newport University in their respective opener this past weekend.