For a while, it looked like Washington's Jaivonn Willis would be the reason Davenport Assumption would go down in the first round of the Class 3A football playoffs.
The Knights could not handle the talented wide receiver, who caught three touchdown passes in the first half of Friday night's contest at Brady Street Stadium as Washington built a 21-10 lead.
But Assumption has play-makers as well. The Knights' defense took on the challenge of shutting down the Demons in the second half, and Jayce Levy and Ryan Wohlers came up big for the hosts offensively as the Knights rallied and eventually took down Washington, 45-28.
Assumption (8-2) advances to the quarterfinals and will travel to take on Cedar Rapids Xavier next Friday at 7 p.m.
The Knights started off with a bang as Levy ran the opening kick back 92 yards for a score. After Antonio Santillan forced and recovered a fumble, Assumption picked up a 19-yard field goal from Nate McMullen to make it 10-0 for the home team.
But after that, it was Willis making all the plays. The 6-foot-3-inch, 221-pound senior caught touchdown passes of 26, 46 and 35 yards through the first and second quarters to give the Demons the 21-10 edge.
Many times, Willis used his big frame to shield defenders and his great hands to go up and snag passes. He had four catches for 105 yards in the first half.
Levy was part of the defensive backfield that had to try and stop Willis.
"He is just big and physical, and we were trying to stop him," Levy said. "He was a big boy, and I give him props, he has good blocking skills, and he is a great athlete. I was just trying my hardest to stay with him."
Levy helped the Knights get back within 21-17 before the half when he hit Logan Klemme with a 20-yard TD pass with just over four minutes left. Assumption probably should have had more points as the Knights fumbled once and were stopped on fourth down, both times inside the Demons' 20-yard line.
The second half was a different story for the Knights. Willis did not have a key reception until the Knights had taken control of the game in the fourth quarter.
Strangely, he was not even targeted in the offensive scheme by the Demons (8-2) until it was too late. He caught two passes for 19 yards in the second half. Willis actually left the game with an injury with just over 2 minutes remaining in the contest.
"We were finally able to stop (Willis) for the rest of the game, and it worked out from there," Levy said.
Assumption grabbed the lead for good after sniffing out and stopping a fake punt on the Demons' first possession of the second half. The Knights then went 62 yards in seven plays, capped by a Wohlers 30-yard TD run to make it 24-21.
After the teams traded punts, Assumption converted a fourth-and-10 deep in Washington territory when Levy hit Klemme with a 13-yard reception. The next play, Levy scrambled for a 15-yard touchdown to make it 31-21 late in the third quarter.
It looked like the Knights might put the game away in the fourth quarter when Nate Hempel stopped a Demons' drive by recovering a fumble at the Knights' 10-yard line. But two plays later, Assumption coughed the ball up and Washington recovered at the 2-yard line. Jack Redlinger ran it in from there to cut the lead to 31-28 with 6:09 left.
But Levy led the Knights down the field again, and on a third-and-five play from the Demons' 35-yard line, he hit Wohlers for a 35-yard touchdown on a wheel route down the sideline to give the Knights the breathing room they needed at 38-28.
The Demons could not get anything going, and Levy later scored on a 69-yard TD run for the final margin.
For the game, Levy accounted for four touchdowns (two pass, one rush, one return) and racked up more than 400 total yards. He passed for 153 and rushed for 182 yards to go with his kickoff return. Wohlers was the workhorse for the Knights, carrying the ball 25 times for 151 yards to go with his rushing and receiving TDs.
"We challenged the guys a little bit at halftime and made some great adjustments defensively. We came out and ran our offense a lot better in the second half," Assumption coach Wade King said. "Jayce and Ryan have been making big plays all year, and there is no reason to think they won't keep doing it."