Kansas Wesleyan head football coach Matt Drinkall noted that Benedictine College was a team built for the postseason.
BC certainly backed that up.
Tailback Marquis Stewart ran for 286 yards and two scores, the defense forced three turnovers that led to 21 points, and the No. 7 Ravens ended the magical run of the No. 6 Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes, 43-21, in front of a juiced crowd at the Graves Family Sports Complex. Benedictine advances to the NAIA Championship for the first time in program history.
Benedictine (13-1) took the opening kickoff and drove 66 yards on six plays for six points as quarterback Shaefer Schuetz connected with receiver Aaron Jackson on a 10-yard slant route. The Ravens struck again after a fumble by Kansas Wesleyan junior quarterback Johnny Feauto. Six plays later, Stewart sprinted 19 yards past the KWU defense to the goal line. The PAT wasn’t attempted after a bad snap, putting BC up 13-0 with 6:47 left in the first quarter.
Kansas Wesleyan fought back, relying on a double-digit drive that closed out the opening frame and bled into the second stanza. The 12-play attack was finished off by junior running back Demarco Prewitt, the NAIA’s leader in scoring, as he plunged forward for a two-yard score, 49 seconds into the second.
Prewitt added to his points total after the Ravens’ first punt of the game. The Menifee, Calif. native slipped by the Benedictine defense, and ran 26 yards to the house, giving KWU the lead, 14-13, with 7:05 remaining. The advantage didn’t last long, as the Ravens turned to tailback Charlie Nihart for a nine-yard scoring punch with 1:29 to go in the half.
That was just the start for Benedictine. The Ravens added another 20 points to the board before a Coyote answer. On the first play of the second half, BC jarred the ball loose from Prewitt at the 28-yard line. Fullback Zach Renfo later scored from four yards out.
KWU’s next drive saw a tipped pass by Feauto, intercepted in Kansas Wesleyan territory. Once again, Benedictine made Wesleyan pay as Stewart dove into the end zone from a yard out. For good measure, the Raven defense forced a turnover on downs at the 48-yard line of KWU. Five plays later, Schuetz hooked up with Jackson again on a one-yard fade, allowing Benedictine to grab a 40-14 advantage with 3:59 remaining in the third.
Benedictine ran for 399 yards, but more importantly, going seven-for-seven in the redzone. Stewart was named as the NAIA Most Outstanding Offensive Player while linebacker Brett Shepardson logged 11 tackles, for four loss to earn defensive MOP.
Prewitt ended the game with 116 yards and three scores on 30 carries. The junior finished the season with 2,371 rushing yards, 38 touchdowns and 246 points scored, all being KCAC records. Feauto was 18-of-36 passing for 185 and a pick, accumulating 3,273 passing yards and 41 touchdowns this season.
Junior linebackers Warren Singletary and Jasper Chavez each had 11 tackles while junior defensive end Shaq Bradford picked up a sack, giving him 22 for the season, a mark that was best in the NAIA.
Summarizing the season, Kansas Wesleyan: set KCAC records in first downs, yards and points scored, grabbed the first KCAC title since 2002, finished the regular season with an unblemished record for first time in program history, recorded first-ever playoff victory, became first KCAC team to advance to semifinals since the 16-team format was created in 1998.