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Washburn and Emporia State prepare for the 177th Turnpike Tussle

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 7:19 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Turnpike Tussle is back. This Saturday, the Washburn Ichabod football team will head south to take on Emporia State for the 117th time.

Washburn Linebacker Jacob Anderson said, “We know that they’re a great team and if we want to win, we have to come out with a lot of energy, play with a lot of discipline.”

WR for ESU Corey Thomas, and Anderson’s friend from high school, said, “We are going into like every other game. We’re preparing as much as we can, watching as much film as we can and being locked in at practice but, everyone deep down -- there’s just an undertone that we know it’s a rivalry game.”

It was in 2019 when the Hornets and Ichabods battled last in the Turnpike Tussle. The players are ready to compete in the only active Division II rivalry game in which both teams have at least 50 wins.

Washburn Linebacker Brooks Peavler said, “Not playing them for two years definitely looking forward to it. Always have this one circled on the calendar.”

Washburn sits at 3-1 on the year averaging 44 points a game. Emporia State is just three points away from being undefeated after losing to Missouri Western 38-37 then to Pitt State 30-28.

Anderson said, “There’s a lot of bad blood between both of these teams but going into the game, knowing the energy we have to play with and believing in each other -- that’s going to be helping us get the job done.”

Head coaches Craig Schurig (Washburn) and Garin Higgins (ESU) know what is at stake.

“It’s been three weeks since I felt good on Sunday. The last two weeks I’ve felt bad and in a bad mood. I didn’t want to go around town, I didn’t want anyone to see me. Alright, so, we need to get a win,” said Higgins. “We need to get a feel good win and a feel good win is even better when it’s against your rival.”

“It’s pretty phenomenal how close the record is and usually the games are really good, it doesn’t get out of hand,” said Schurig. “We’re expecting a very tough game. We’ll be on the road so hopefully we can bring a little extra and get off to a fast start. That always helps, but they’re a very good football team so we have to be ready.”

Coach Higgins said a big factor in getting the win is putting pressure on Washburn’s Quarterback Mitch Schurig. Shurig this season has thrown for 1,136 yards with 11 touchdowns to 4 interceptions.

Coach Shurig said their depth on defense will be very important on Saturday.

ESU LB Dawson Hammes said, “It’s for the players, for the alumni. My dad played here back in the day. It’s going to mean a lot to a lot of people.”

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday on Jones Field at Welch Stadium.

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