The Builders have an opportunity to end this year’s football season on a three-game winning streak. Southwestern travels to Kansas Wesleyan University Saturday. The Coyotes are 4-5, and are coming off a 22-10 loss against Friends University. Southwestern looks to continue their success after a 23-20 victory over Tabor College. The Builders have a chance to end the year tied with the Coyotes at fifth in the Kansas Colligate Athletics Conference with a win.
Kansas Wesleyan is only eighth in the KCAC in scoring offense with 19.4 points per game, and seventh in total offense averaging 296.3 yards per game. They have proven to be effective on the ground, though, as they are currently ranked fifth in rushing yards per game, averaging 100.4.
The Coyote defense has anchored the team for much of the season. Kansas Wesleyan has given up only 303.1 yards of offense on average, which is third in the conference only to McPherson and Friends. They are also ranked second in first downs allowed, giving up a total of 138 this season.
The purple and white will need to bring everything they have offensively to find success against a stubborn Coyote defense. “I’m sure they are just as good as everyone else we have played,” said Nick Koch, junior defensive back. “We will just have to do what we have to do to get the win.”
The Builders brought Sonner Stadium’s reign to an end in style. On Nov. 7 Southwestern took down the Tabor Blue Jays 23-20 in the final game at the 62-year-old facility. It was a day filled with emotion, celebration and a great football game. “We want people to know that when you come into Richard L. Jantz Stadium next year that we are going to be a tough team especially at home,” said Ken Crandall, head football coach.
The Builders looked good in the early going. After forcing Tabor to a three-and-out on their first possession, Christian Butler, freshman quarterback, blocked the ensuing punt into the endzone to give Southwestern a safety.
The Builders then drove 51 yards on 8 plays, capping off the drive with a touchdown pass from Jordan Barrett, freshman quarterback, to Logan Wyrick, senior tight end. The score gave Southwestern a 9-0 advantage.
The Blue Jays had an answer as Derek Washington, sophomore running back, scored on a two-yard run to narrow the gap to 9-7 at the end of the first quarter.
After an interception by Koch, the Builders put on another big drive. “Whenever the defense can help the offense score, it’s a big deal,” said Koch.
Lance Evans, freshman running back, punched the ball in from one-yard out to cap off the six-play, 52-yard drive.
With 6:11 remaining in the half, Tabor once again answered back with a touchdown of their own. The score came off of an 11-yard pass from Joey Erickson, junior quarterback, to Chris Roddy, freshman wide receiver. The score remained 16-14 with the Builders going into the locker rooms at halftime.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that Tabor found a big break. Barrett fumbled the ball away to the Blue Jays deep in Southwestern territory. Tabor took advantage of the opportunity by scoring on a Washington two-yard touchdown run. After a botched extra point, Tabor took the lead for the first time in the game 20-16 with just 0:31 gone in the final quarter.
Their lead lasted for barely four minutes though, as the Builders answered back with a big drive. “We got down 20-16 and we needed a score offensively and we got it,” said Crandall. The purple and white drove 80 yards on 10 plays to regain the lead 23-20. The score came off of a nine-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Joey Pataki, freshman wide receiver.
The Builders then proceeded eat up the clock with steady ball control. With just 20 seconds left the in the game the Blue Jays had one last shot for a miracle comeback. Three incomplete passes later Southwestern was celebrating its third win of the season.
The Builders outshined Tabor in almost every major statistic. Southwestern gained 280 yards of total offense compared to the Blue Jays 210. The purple and white also picked up 20 first downs compared to 14 gained by Tabor. One of the biggest keys of the game though was ball control. Southwestern held the ball for 35:14 to Tabor’s 24:06 time of possession.
Barrett ended the day with good numbers as he completed 13 of 25 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Jeff Schaefer, junior wide receiver, led the Builders in receiving with four catches for 77 yards. Evans had arguably one of his best games, carrying the work load on the ground. “We just felt like he was a work hoarse force,” said Crandall. “He really started to get downhill and make some people miss later in the game.” Evans finished the day with 33 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown.
The Builders will need to play just as well, if not better, to take down Kansas Wesleyan this coming Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:30 in Salina.
Clint Dick is a freshman majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.