LEAVENWORTH – Kansas Wesleyan coach Matt Myers knew his quarterback Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio) was capable of throwing the ball as well as anyone in the NAIA.
White, who was KWU’s back up quarterback last fall, had shown flashes of his ability in the Coyotes’ first four games but hadn’t broken through and unleashed his best stuff. Until Saturday afternoon.
With Saint Mary’s defense congregating at or near the line of scrimmage in hopes of slowing KWU’s running attack the spotlight shifted to White and he did not disappoint.
White completed 17 of 19 passes for 311 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in just over three quarters of play as the No. 16 Coyotes steamrolled Saint Mary 39-13 in a Kansas Conference game at Charles J. Berkel Memorial Stadium. It was their fifth consecutive victory over the Spires.
White, a transfer from Langston (Okla.) before the 2021 season, was 11 of 12 for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as KWU stormed to a 30-6 lead at intermission.
“He just needs to go throw the ball downfield and let (the wide receivers) go make plays,” Myers said. “I think early he was just a little tentative and not just letting it rip. He did today and looked really good.”
White threw two scoring passes to Rhadarious Lomax-Spivey (FR/Aurora, Ill.) covering 33 yards in the second quarter and 23 yards on the second play of fourth quarter on his final toss of the day. He also hit Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.) with a 44 yarder in the first quarter.
Macon had monstrous day catching five passes for 124 and 20 yards rushing on three carries while Lomax-Spivey had four catches for 88 yards. White completed passes to seven different receivers.
KWU finished with 139 yards rushing and 464 total yards. Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) led the ground attack with 40 yards rushing on 15 carries, Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas) had 32 on seven tries and Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.) 29 on 11 attempts. Six backs played in the game.
“The running backs probably want all the carries but it’s one of those things,” Myers said. “We’ve got six quality backs so we’re going to do what we do with those guys. They do a good job running ball but also pass protection. They’re doing well.”
Defensively the Coyotes were sensational once again as Saint Mary finished with just 116 total yards including 29 rushing. KWU has allowed just 27 yards rushing in its last two game after holding Bethany to minus-2 a week earlier.
Saint Mary quarterbacks Erick Covington and Shane Bishop were a combined 7 of 23 passing for 83 yards and were sacked three times.
“As long as you don’t give 20-plus yard plays and make them drive the ball on you you’re putting yourself in position to force them to make play after play after play,” Myers said. “I tell them don’t give up big plays and we’ll be fine over the course of the game and the season.”
Wesleyan drove 57 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown on its first possession of the game, Benjamin scoring from the 5-yard line with 9:56 left in the first quarter. The Coyotes marched 68 yards on seven plays for a score on their next possession, White’s 44-yard pass to Macon for the score with 3:51 left in the quarter.
KWU opened the second quarter with an impressive 83-yard, 10-play drive with Boston going the final three yards for the score making it 21-0 with 10:47 left in the half.
After a safety increased the lead to 23-0 the Coyotes embarked on a 71-yard, 10-play drive, White hitting Lomax-Spivey for the 38-yard score for a 30-0 lead with 5:16 left in the half.
Saint Mary scored with 48 seconds left in the half after KWU muffed a punt at its 40-yard line.
Another safety late in the third quarter gave the Coyotes a 32-6 and they scored their final touchdown early in the final quarter on White’s second scoring pass to Lomax-Spivey – the culmination of a quick 56-yard, six-play drive.
Saint Mary scored its second touchdown with 48 seconds left in the game.
Wesleyan is back home next Saturday for a crucial conference game against Avila (4-1) starting at 1 p.m. at JRI Stadium. The Eagles defeated Sterling 44-14 Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.
“We should go in there with a ton of confidence,” Myers said. “We need to clean up some stuff, take care of the football – we fumbled the ball twice today and lost them both. But if you look at the stats and the numbers, I think we’re where we’re supposed to be.”