OTTAWA – It was a matchup made in heaven for Kansas Wesleyan’s offense.
The Coyotes entered their game against Ottawa knowing the Braves were having significant issues stopping opposing teams from successfully running the football – 243.6 yards per game to precise. Wesleyan, meanwhile, was averaging 234 yards on the ground.
So, what unfolded Saturday afternoon at AdventHealth Field was not surprising as the Coyotes shredded Ottawa’s defense for 319 rushing yards and four touchdowns en route to a 30-13 Kansas Conference victory.
KWU improved to 7-2 overall and the KCAC with its third consecutive victory and eighth win in a row against the Braves (1-7).
“It was good to see them take ownership of a game like that and pound the ball,” KWU coach Matt Myers said. “We had a couple of guys up front get injured … and other guys had to step up and play and it was good to see.”
The rushing thrust was a balanced effort. Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas) and Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.) led the charge with 81 yards each, Benjamin on 11 carries and Boston 15 attempts. Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) added 73 yards on 16 carries and Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.) 54 on just four tries.
Benjamin did the bulk of his damage in the fourth quarter. Ottawa pulled within 16-13 with a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter and lined up for a potentially game-tying field goal attempt on the fifth play of the fourth quarter.
Lewis McMullen’s 45-yard kick missed with 12:08 left, though, and the Coyotes immediately responded. Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.) hit Benjamin with a 33-yard pass on the first play after the miss and Benjamin followed with a 33-yard run to the OU 1-yard line. Lara scored on the next play and the Coyotes led 23-13 with 11:24 remaining.
Ottawa went three-and-out on its ensuing possession and KWU sealed the deal with a 54-yard, nine-play drive that culminated with Allsman scoring from the 5 with 5:09 left for a 30-13 advantage.
Benjamin had 34 yards on five carries during the drive and Allsman accounted for the final 14 yards on three carries. Benjamin had 72 yards rushing and the 33-yard pass in the quarter.
Lara was 8 of 16 passing for 158 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for the game. Woody Banks (SO/Lewisville, Texas) was the top receiver with three catches 89 yards but was injured after a 37-yard reception on the final play of the first half and didn’t return.
Wesleyan finished with 477 total yards on 74 plays – an average of 6.4 yards per play.
“The passing game just didn’t quite get going early, a couple of blown protections,” Myers said. “We need to get it going. We’ll go back and look at it and get better next week (against Arkansas Baptist).”
Ottawa scored on its first possession of the game and first possession of the second half but otherwise didn’t get much done. The Braves finished with 235 total yards –70 rushing on 27 carries for an average of 2.7 per carry. Running back Malaki Peko had 60 yards on nine attempts, 31 yards on a touchdown run in the third quarter.
Ottawa quarterback Billy Maples was 14 of 32 passing for 160 yards and was sacked four times. Backup quarterback Austin Zavala 2 of 2 for 10 yards. The Braves were forced to punt seven times in the game.
The Coyotes led 16-7 at halftime. They scored on their opening possession of the game, driving 75 yards on nine plays with Lara scoring from the 2. His 36-yard pass to Banks was the big play in the drive.
KWU took a 13-7 lead on Boston’s 12-yard run with 12:58 left in the half capping a 67-yard, nine-play drive. Aaron Main (SR/Tulsa, Okla.)’s 23-yard field goal with 3:29 left before intermission accounted for the final points of the half.
The Coyotes take a break from KCAC play next Saturday when they entertain Arkansas Baptist in an 11 a.m. game at JRI Stadium and the Graves Family Sports Complex. The regular season concludes the following week against Southwestern in Winfield.
Arkansas Baptist lost to Avila 36-6 Saturday in Little Rock, Ark.