How 'phenomenal' defense powered Washington to win over rival Metamora

Adam Duvall
Journal Star

WASHINGTON — Defense ruled the latest chapter of the Washington-Metamora rivalry.

Thomas Borges ran for 167 yards and a touchdown as Washington beat Metamora 24-14 on Friday night at Babcook Field in the 40th regular season meeting between these two Mid-Illini Conference neighbors.

Washington has now won four of the last five in the M-I series, but the Redbirds still hold a 21-19 all-time advantage.

The Panthers (6-2, 5-1) remain in the hunt for Mid-Illini title with the victory. Washington finishes its league slate with a visit to East Peoria (0-8, 0-6) next week, while M-I co-leader Morton (6-2, 5-1) heads to Dunlap (5-3, 4-2).

“Still got one more to go,” Washington coach Darrell Crouch said of claiming the conference championship. “That’s what we talked about, ‘If you win tonight, you put yourself in the driver’s seat.’ ”

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Washington's Thomas Borges (22) gets past Metamora's Carson Irvin for some yardage in the second half Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 at Babcook Field in Washington. The Panthers defeated the Redbirds 24-14.

“Our defense has been phenomenal this year, anyway, and to have that performance and hold those guys down, that’s tough. That’s a big task … super proud of our kids on ‘D’. … I feel like the last three weeks, each week we’ve gotten a little better.”

But it was Metamora (5-3, 3-3) that struck first. The Redbirds went 80 yards in six plays to open the game, capping it with a 40-yard touchdown catch by Kaden Hartnett (174 receiving yards on nine catches) from Connor Willerton. A two-point conversion made it 8-0 just 3:14 into the game.

That would be just one of two scores Washington would give up.

“Most teams would fall under that pressure, fall under that adversity,” Washington senior Cade Biedscheid said of his team’s mindset when trailing early. “We only allowed six (points) the rest of the game. We just kept pushing through and that was able to get our offense going.”

Biedscheid, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound fullback, paved the way for his classmate Borges, who carried the ball 19 times. The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder ran in a 39-yard TD with 18.5 seconds remaining in the opening quarter and pulled Washington within 8-7.

Washington's Jack Limas (8) and his teammates celebrate his touchdown against Metamora late in the fourth quarter Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 at Babcook Field in Washington. The Panthers defeated the Redbirds 24-14.

This was just the beginning for the "Killer B" combo — Biedscheid mowing down defenders and Borges running wild.

“It’s pretty easy,” Biedscheid said. “Once you get one block for Thomas or Jack (Limas) or Drew (Lewis) … they’re gone. They make it a lot easier.

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“The beginning of the year our blocking, our offensive line, it struggled a little bit to be honest. That’s why we were 2-2 to start the year but four wins a row right now, we’ve improved immensely.”

Paul Sporrer tacked on a 32-yard field goal for a 10-8 lasting lead at the 7:36 mark of the second quarter. A Limas 24-yard TD run with 55.3 left in the game set the final score.

The Washington Panthers celebrate their 24-14 victory over Metamora on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 at Babcook Field in Washington.

Hartnett added a 54-yard TD snag with 6:33 left in the third, making it a 17-14 game.

The Redbirds, who wrap up their regular with a visit to Canton (2-6, 2-4) in Week 9, had two chances in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Those drives stalled out when an eight-play drive ended in a punt and another in a three-and-out.

Ethan Petri’s 99 rushing yards on 16 carries led the Redbirds, who had 335 total yards (190 passing and 145 rushing).

“We knew we had to stop their two running backs (Garrett Taylor and Petri),” Biedscheid said. “They like to pound the ball down our throats. We weren’t going to let that happen.”

Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at aduvall@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.