It will be the first time ever that Southwestern will host a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference opponent at Richard L. Jantz Stadium on Saturday as the team takes on Friends University. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in Winfield. The Builders will have their hands full as they take on the pre-season favorite to win the conference.
The Builders currently have the No. 1 ranked rushing offense in the KCAC. The team has a total of 346 yards on the ground in their first two games and average 173 rushing yards per game. Michael Coppock, senior running back, has been the catalyst, carrying the ball 49 times for 339 yards on the season.
“The running game is coming together really well,” said Coppock. “The guys up front blocking are working together really well and we are more experienced than we have been in the past.”
Despite being ranked at the top of the KCAC in football, the Falcons lost their opening game at home Sept. 11 against McPherson 52-20. The usually potent Friends offense mustered just 244 yards of total offense in the losing effort, including a miserable 38 yards on the ground.
“Friends is always a really good team,” said Jeff Schaefer, senior wide receiver. “We know they are a beatable team, but they are also going to come into the game against us agitated and upset.”
Jayme Brislow, sophomore quarterback for the Falcons, completed 21 of 42 passes during the game and threw for two touchdowns. Brislow was also picked off three times.
“We are going to have to create turnovers,” said Nick Koch, senior defensive back. “The more opportunities we have to get off the field and give our offense a chance to put some points up, the better.”
Builder football opened KCAC play Saturday in Sterling against the Warriors. Despite a second half push, Southwestern fell to Sterling 28-17 in a game that the Warriors led throughout.
Both sides struggled offensively early. The Warriors were the first to find success with 2:19 remaining in the first quarter, driving 71 yards on six plays. Rashard Colquitt, senior running back, capped off the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run to give Sterling the early lead.
The Builders came back with a drive of their own early in the second quarter as they drove deep into Warrior territory on an 11-play, 66-yard drive. They could not get into the end zone, however, and settled for a 19-yard field goal by Austin Ledy, sophomore kicker, to shorten the lead to 7-3 Warriors.
Sterling did not let up after the Builder score. The Warriors scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Colquitt with 1:31 remaining in the first half. On the ensuing Builder possession, Matt Tria, sophomore punter, botched the snap on a punt and the Warriors recovered with great field position. With 13 seconds remaining in the half, Matt James, junior widereceiver, caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Keoki Burbank, senior quarterback, in front of Southwestern’s Macklin Nusz, senior defensive back. The score gave the Warriors a 21-3 lead going into the locker rooms.
“If we didn’t give up the score at the end of the half, it would have been a different ball game,” said Koch. “We would just keep giving up big plays that would shatter our momentum.”
The Builders stayed strong in the third quarter as Jordan Barrett, sophomore quarterback, threw a six-yard touchdown tossto Alex Hutchins, senior tight end, to cut the Warrior lead to 21-10 with 8:13 to go in the quarter.
Just when it looked as though the Builders had the momentum on their side, the Warriors struck back. Joey Garcia, senior quarterback, ran the ball in for a Sterling touchdown with 10:56 left in the game to put the Warriors back up for good.
The Builders drove the ball 89 yards on nine plays, ending the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Cody Melby, junior wide receiver.
“We have a deep receiving group,” said Schaefer. “Melby and Wayne [Clutter, sophomore wide receiver] have been great in practice can really stretch the field.”
The score came too little too late as Southwestern fell to 0-2.
Sterling was outgained by the Builders in total offensive yards 319 to 291 and also in first downs 20 to 14. The Southwestern defense also forced and recovered four fumbles on the game.
Despite throwing two touchdowns, Barrett struggled to complete his passes, connecting on just 13 of 35 attempts. Barrett also threw three interceptions.
“We just have to eliminate our mistakes,” said Coppock. “We shine at moments and we shoot ourselves in the foot in others.”
Coppock had his second consecutive game with more than 160 yards on the ground. Coppock finished with 179 yards on 30 carries.
Nathan Richter, senior linebacker, led the Builder defense with 13 total tackles.
Clinton Dick is a sophomore majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.