It is approximately five and a half hours from Winfield to Goodwell, Okla., where the Builders collide with Oklahoma Panhandle State University Saturday in a non-conference match up. Why, though, would Southwestern schedule to play a football game against a team so far away?
“We had an open week and they had an open week,” said Ken Crandall, head coach. “It is really hard to find open teams at this time of the season. It is also good to have at least one game where we travel. It helps get the team away from everything.”
The Aggies are 1-4 coming into Saturday’s game against the Builders. They are coming off of a tough loss to the University of Incarnate Word 38-35 in overtime, marking the third straight game that OPSU has gone into overtime this year.
There is nothing too flashy about the Aggies so far this season. Offensively, OPSU averages 341.5 yards per game. Defensively, they have given up an average of 38 points a game, which is ranked a miserable 127th in the nation.
“I think they are going to be a team that we can beat,” said Jeff Schaefer, junior wide receiver, I think it will be tough, and we will have to play a good game, but I like to have a positive outlook every week.”
The Builders, who are 0-3, will need find a way to put points on the board. They have struggled throughout the season, averaging 186.8 yards per game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Builders are allowing 464.5 yards per game, which is ranked eighth in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“I think we need to improve a lot in effort,” said Zak Tazkargy, sophomore linebacker. “Once we get down we just sort of stay down. We will go into this week and win, and that will get our confidence up and we will play a lot better.”
The purple and white came into their game against the Ottawa Braves in need of something positive after dropping their first three games. Unfortunately, the Braves had other plans.
Ethan Haller, senior quarterback, opened up the scoring for the Braves as he connected with Clarence Anderson, sophomore wide receiver, for a 36-yard touchdown just three minutes into the game. Haller would connect with Anderson four more times during the game and end with five total touchdown passes.
The bright spot for the Builders was their offensive performance in the second quarter, when they scored all 16 of their points for the game. “It was our best game of the year offensively,” said Schaeffer. “It just all came in the first half.” They scored two touchdowns in a game for the first time all season, both coming on one-yard runs from Jordan Barrett, freshman quarterback.
In the end, it was not enough to overcome Ottawa’s high-powered offense as the Braves racked up 555 yards of total offense against the Builders in a 54-16 win.
“I thought we played pretty good for the first 30 minutes,” said Crandall. “We just didn’t finish in the second half. We need to get better at playing the full 60 minutes.”
Schaefer said, “We need to be more consistent. We can’t give the other team breaks and turnovers, and we need to come out in the second half like we do the first half.”
Southwestern made improvements offensively as they accumulated 17 first downs and 259 yards of total offense. Barrett completed 13 of his 19 passes for 98 yards, while Dillon Fowler, freshman wide receiver, led the Builders in receiving with 7 catches for 109 yards.
Turnovers and miscues once again sealed the Builder’s fate, though, as two interceptions and two lost fumbles kept Southwestern from putting points on the board.
Clint Dick is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org