KWU Wins Final Game at Salina Stadium
Patrick Strathman - September 20, 2015 1:53 am
KWU Junior Garrett Walker runs down Sterling quarterback Cedrick Phillips. (Photo Courtesy of Dr. David S. Silverman, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Theatre Arts, Kansas Wesleyan University)
The offense racked up nearly 600 yards, but it came down to the defense to make critical stops as Kansas Wesleyan held off Sterling 28-21 at Salina Stadium on Saturday night.
For Kansas Wesleyan, it marks the first 3-0 start since 2010 and a 1-0 start to Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference play for the second straight year.
Wesleyan’s offense started out on fire. Jake Curran found Kelly Cordova for a 27-yard touchdown pass, putting Wesleyan up 7-0 with 7:56 left in the first quarter.
After forcing a Sterling three-and-out, Wesleyan’s offense went back to work. Curran threw his second scoring strike of the night, hitting LonDarius Thomas on a one-yard screen pass to push the lead to 14-0 with 3:22 left in the opening quarter.
Wesleyan’s offense would struggle to finish drives the rest of the night.
In the second quarter, Wesleyan turned the ball over on downs at the Sterling 33-yard line on one drive, and then fumbled the ball away inside the Sterling 25 on the next drive. Greg Williams scooped up the fumble and ran 72 yards for a touchdown, cutting Wesleyan’s lead in half at 14-7 with 7:43 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Wesleyan worked into the red zone, but turned the ball over on downs again, this time at the Sterling 17. After a Sterling punt, Wesleyan again mounted a drive, but had to punt at the Sterling 37.
KWU used all three timeouts after Sterling running plays late in the quarter to give the offense one more chance. It paid off, as Wesleyan went on a quick five-play scoring drive. Curran hit Joe Vela for a 42-yard pass down the sideline to open the drive, and then capped it on a third-and-10 pass to Mitch Kufahl for a 16-yard touchdown, putting KWU up 21-7 at halftime.
In the second half, Sterling pulled within seven again when kicker Eddie Juarez ran for a 23-yard score on a fake field goal with 7:19 left in the quarter.
With momentum on Sterling’s side, Wesleyan had a big answer. A 39-yard pass from Curran to Vela set up Wesleyan at the Sterling two-yard line. On fourth down, Curran charged straight ahead for a three-yard score, putting Wesleyan up 28-14 with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
KWU had another chance to go up three scores again in the fourth quarter, but a fumble on the exchange between quarterback Kelly Cordova and running back Colby Donohue was recovered by Sterling at the Warrior 13-yard line. Sterling moved into KWU territory, but a sack by Sequente Marks pushed Sterling out of field goal range and forced a punt.
KWU’s offense went three-and-out, and the Sterling offense had life for the first time all night. Cedric Phillips hit T.J. Brown for a 33-yard touchdown pass, pulling Sterling back within seven at 28-21 with 4:45 left.
Sterling got two more chances with the football. Sterling would turn the ball over on downs at its own 48-yard line after coming up short on 4th-and-1. After a KWU three-and-out, Mike Guerrero intercepted Phillips’ pass, bringing and end to the game.
Wesleyan racked up 589 yards of offense in the game, with Sterling picking up 307 yards. Wesleyan threw for 444 yards in the game. Curran was 29-for-41 passing for 421 yards and three touchdowns. Curran also carried the ball six times for 46 yards and a score. Vela had 11 catches for 176 yards, while Cordova was the leading rusher with eight carries for 57 yards. Phillips had 37 carries for 118 yards for Sterling. Phillips was also 4-for-15 passing for 76 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Kansas Wesleyan visits Southwestern on Saturday for a 6pm kickoff. Wesleyan hosts McPherson for homecoming on Oct. 3, which is the anticipated opening football game at the Graves Family Sports Complex. Kickoff is also at 6pm.