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Local Sports

Football: Voitik's kickoff return sparks Morris past Washington

WASHINGTON – With Morris trailing, 10-7, at halftime Friday night to Class 5A No. 2-ranked Washington, the Redskins knew they needed something to turn the tide.

It didn’t take long. All of 18 seconds, in fact.

Payton Voitik fielded the second-half kickoff at the Morris 8-yard line, burst through a hole in the middle of the wedge, then cut toward the left sideline and ran untouched into the end zone for a 92-yard kickoff return. Austin Hatcher’s extra-point kick made it 14-10 in favor of Morris and paved the way to the Redskins’ eventual 21-10 victory.

“It was called funnel to the middle,” Voitk said about the return. “We run it a lot in practice and pretty much have it down to perfection. I had a good feeling when we called that return in the huddle. You could see that it deflated them a little bit, and we just kept building off of that.”

The teams traded punts after Voitik’s touchdown, and Washington drove down to the Morris 6-yard line. On first-and-goal, Josh Shellenberg gained five yards before being brought down at the 1. He was then stopped for a one-yard loss by Cody Baldridge and a botched snap then lost two yards, setting up 4th and goal at the 4.

Washington lined up for a 21-yard field goal, but called timeout and sent the offense back on the field. Panther quarterback Caleb Fisher rolled to his right, but was chased down by Alex Cameron. He somehow avoided Cameron’s tackle, but Alonzo Enriques and Avery Hofmann were in pursuit as well and dragged Fisher down for a 16-yard loss.

It was the second time that Washington had been inside the Morris 5 and failed to score a touchdown. Just before halftime, the Redskin defense stiffened and allowed just a field goal rather than a touchdown.

“Our defense was the star of the game tonight,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “They were lights out. People are going to realize what a good team Washington is, and for us to give up only 10 points to them and shut them out in the second half says a lot about our defense.”

Morris took over at its 20 after stopping Washington, but was called for holding on the first offensive play, backing them up to the 9. Tyler Petty, who scored the first Redskin touchdown on a five-yard run in the second quarter, ran for a gain of 3 yards to make it second-and-18.

Then, Kameron Dransfeldt ran through a hole on the left side and outran the Washington defense for an 88-yard touchdown run with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter. Dransfeldt finished with 167 yards on 17 carries.

“I don’t remember what the play call was, but it was to the left side,” Dransfeldt said. “We usually run to the right, but we went to the left on that play and everyone blocked well. It’s all about the blocking.”

Washington got a 66-yard return on the ensuing kickoff to put them at the Morris 26. Fisher lofted a pass toward the end zone on the first play, but Morris’ Blake Breyman intercepted it. It was the first of three interceptions by the Morris defense in the second half, as Voitik and Dransfeldt each picked off a pass in the fourth quarter.

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