PRINCETON – While wearing No. 18 for the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning became known for helping the Blue and White snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the fourth quarter.
Friday night at Princeton, another quarterback wearing No. 18 achieved the same glory for the Washington Hatchets.
Washington’s quarterback Trey Reed guided the Hatchets on three, fourth quarter touchdown drives as the Hatchets erased a two touchdown Princeton lead and picked up a 34-27 Pocket Athletic Conference win on Friday.
After the win – Washington’s first win in a conference game since a Big 8 victory over Mt. Vernon in 2017 and the first time the Hatchets have recorded back-to-back wins since the same season – first-year Hatchet coach Joe Morris repeated a refrain that he started and which has already become a popular mantra throughout Hatchet Nation.
“We got some dings, we had some injuries, but the thing here is that there is an upside to adversity. As long as there is time on the clock, as long we get a chance to play, we have a chance,” said Morris. “Tonight, not only for our players but for our staff, our community,and our fans, this is a great day to be a Hatchet.”
Washington (3-3, 1-2) trailed Princeton (2-4, 0-2) 27-14 heading into the fourth quarter but dominated the final 12:00 of action. Reed did the honors with a five-yard run less than a minute into the fourth to cut the lead to 27-20.
After Princeton’s Cole Hurt missed a field goal on the Tigers’ next possession, Reed drove Washington to another touchdown courtesy a two-yard Jayce Perkins run. That run was set up by a 39-yard catch by Simon Parsons and a roughing the passer penalty against Princeton on the same play.
Washington went for the lead after Perkins’ run but the try for 2-points was stopped, and the Hatchets trailed 27-26 with just over 6:00 left on the clock.
Princeton ran nearly 5:00 of the clock but punted the ball back to Washington with 1:23 to play. Starting at his own 33, Reed drove the Hatchets 67 yards in nine plays, the final 10 coming on a completion to Nate Aldrich in the end zone with :11 on the clock. Nathan Strange converted the extra point for a 34-27 Hatchet lead.
Princeton had one last snap on its final possession but Seth Holtsclaw sacked Tiger quarterback Christian Schafer as the clock ran out.
In all, Reed threw for 137 yards on 8-19 passing and a touchdown and ran for 137 yards on 21 carries and two scores. Coupled with the win over Pike Central the previous week- when the Hatchet senior was voted the Evansville Courier Player of the Week – Reed has now ran for 348 yards and five touchdowns and thrown for another 254 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games.
“Tonight is a major win for our program. You’ve heard us talk about 48 minutes ... we could have given up,” said Morris. “But not this week. To be on the road, hadn’t won against Princeton since 2011, I have nothing but respect for their program. But this is a great win for our program, I’m so happy for our kids.”
Aldridge also hauled in a 14-yard catch on the final drive and finished with two catches for 24 yards. Holtsclaw added a pair of catches for 23 yards, while Jacob Carrico caught two passes for 38 yards.
Washington led 14-12 at halftime. The Hatchets got a fumble recovery from Aiden Arvin on Princetons’ first possession of the contest, and two plays later Seth Holtsclaw ran 39 yards for a touchdown. Strange’s extra point gave the Hatchets a 7-0 lead less than 2:00 into the game.
Quarterback Christian Schafer scored the Tigers first touchdown of the half on a 41-yard run early in the second quarter, but the extra point was blocked, leaving WHS with a 7-6 lead.
Washington took the lead midway through the second quarter when, after a short Princeton punt under heavy pressure, the Hatchets too over a the Tiger nine. Three plays later Reed carried the ball in from one-yard out. Strange added the extra point as WHS extended the lead to 14-6.
It looked that would be the halftime score when Washington recovered a Tiger fumble at the WHS 15 with less than a minute to play in the half. But a high snap out of the shotgun formation allowed Princeton to recover the ball and get into the end zone. Though the Tiger 2-point attempt was stopped, the Hatchet lead heading into the locker room was cut to 14-12.
But the momentum Princeton picked up to end the first half carried over in the second half. Fullback Ben Heidenreich began gaining big chunks of yards against the Hatchet defense, scoring on touchdown runs of 13 and 26 yards in the Tigers’ first two possessions of the half, leaving Princeton up 27-14. But Heidenreich’s second third quarter touchdown would be the high point for the Tiger offense. Princeton’s next three possession ended with a Gage Memering interception, a missed field goal, and a punt.
Washington travels to Heritage Hills on Friday.