Matt Myers and his Kansas Wesleyan football team couldn’t have asked for a more complete performance and outcome in their Homecoming game Saturday night.
KWU’s defense refused to bend or break, the offense broke free of its slump and placekicker Aaron Main (SR/Tulsa, Okla.) added his name to the record book as the Coyotes rolled to a 62-0 Kansas Conference rout of Tabor before a sellout crowd of 2,134 – the fourth largest in school history – at JRI Stadium and Graves Family Sports Complex.
KWU limited Tabor to 76 total yards on 61 plays (1.2 yards per play) and piled up 430 yards led by quarterback Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.), who was making his second career start.
And there was Main who kicked a 47-yard field goal and tied the school record with a 51-yarder, both in the second quarter.
“What we did tonight is what we’re capable of,” said Myers, whose team improved to 6-2 overall and in the KCAC. “If we continue to do that – eliminate mistakes on offense and defense and let our guys go play – that’s the kind of a result that we expect.”
The defense continued its dominant play. One week after limiting McPherson to 50 total yards in the second half, the Coyotes constructed a steel curtain around Tabor’s offense. The Bluejays (5-3 overall, 4-3 KCAC) had a minus-33 total yards and no first downs at halftime. They finished with just five first downs – the first coming late in the third quarter.
Wesleyan also registered five sacks, all in the first half – end Scott Sanchez (SR/Kelseyville, Calif.) accounting for 2.5.
“We switched up our fronts a little bit on how we were mixing matching the guys in the defensive line,” Myers said. “It was good to see them produce like that in the first half. They calmed down in the second half but we still got the shutout and that’s the most important thing.”
Linebackers Ricco Moore (JR/Ocean Springs, Miss.) and Taevin Brown (FR/Austin, Texas) had eight tackles apiece and DeVante’ Gabriel seven for KWU. Tabor quarterbacks Gustavo Villareal and William Green were a combined 9 of 22 passing for 78 yards and one interception.
“Coaches said apply pressure, all they do is inside zone (runs) so stop the run and they couldn’t move the ball,” Moore said. “Their tackles are young so we sent edge pressure (after the quarterback) and they couldn’t stop it.”
Moore said the defense is a cohesive unit that feeds off each other.
“It’s just chemistry,” he said. “We work hard every day. We’re brothers and we just make each other better. Iron sharpens iron.”
Lara was solid directing the offense completing 13 of 22 passes for 162 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Backup Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio) was 2 of 5 for 14 yards and ran two yards for KWU’s final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“He played a good game,” Myers said of Lara, a transfer from Bakersfield College (Calif.). “He under threw a ball that could have had an easy touchdown so once we get some of that ironed out, we’ll be able to really open (the offense) up and go.”
The Coyotes had 256 yards rushing led by Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas) who had 86 yards on five carries – 73 coming on a touchdown jaunt on the first play of the fourth quarter. Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) had 52 yards on nine carries and scored twice, Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.) 41 on 11 tries and a touchdown and D’Heaven Domena (FR/Charlotte, N.C.) scored and had 18 yards on three carries.
The designated hero, though, was most Main. He made all eight of his extra point attempts in addition to the two field goals. He’s 44 of 44 on extra points this season, three of four on field goal attempts and has scored 53 points.
The 51-yard field goal tied the record set by Terry Stecker on October 29, 2011 against Southwestern.
Main was thrilled to get two chances Saturday.
“This was a surprise but I’m always staying ready,” he said. “With our program and how our game plan is we play statistical data on offense so we don’t usually go for field goals. But having a kicker like me and a field goal unit as great as they are I know that I’m always ready.”
Both kicks Saturday were down the middle and textbook form.
“They were on the sweet spot every single time, they were beautiful,” Main said. “The toe was pointed out and when you hit a crisp ball like that consistently it’s going to go in from any distance.”
“I’ve got a lot of faith in Aaron,” Myers said. “He probably would like more opportunities but we’re going to continue to be aggressive and go for it on fourth downs. I’m happy that he banged those two in and I’m more than willing to send him back out there when the time calls for it.”
The Coyotes play Ottawa at 1 p.m. next Saturday in Ottawa. The Braves (1-6 overall and KCAC) defeated Friends 28-13 Saturday in Wichita for their first victory of the season.