Southwestern’s defense managed to slow Demarco Prewitt and Kansas Wesleyan’s running game.
So, the Coyotes did what you’d would expect the No. 2-ranked team in the country to do – turn to its irrepressible passing attack.
Johnny Feauto threw for 395 yards and five touchdowns, and four wide receivers totaled at least 64 yards in receptions as KWU rolled to a 45-21 Kansas Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Richard Jantz Stadium.
KWU improved to 7-0 overall, 6-0 in the KCAC, while Southwestern fell to 3-4 and 3-3.
Southwestern’s defense limited Prewitt to 62 yards on 24 carries and the Coyotes to 128 yards rushing on 38 attempts as a team but it wasn’t nearly enough to contain KWU’s offense.
Feauto was 27 of 38 passing with one interception. He has 27 touchdown tosses on the season.
“Thank you, we appreciate that, we love that,” wide out Richard McCauley said of Southwestern’s strategy. “We know we can do both (run and pass). Prewitt runs the ball really, really well and we can all catch the ball, we can all run. You respect one and don’t respect the other we’ll just make you pay.”
McCauley caught eight passes for 113 yards, Trenton Poe-Evans eight for 64 yards and two touchdowns, Johnny Carmack five for 111 yards and a score; and Stevie Williams four for 93 yards and two TDs.
“We’ve got some different weapons out there on the perimeter and when Demarco Prewitt runs the ball it forces the defense to do some things schematically that allows us to take some shots with some receivers,” KWU coach Myers Hendrickson said. “We had a lot of guys who stepped up today.”
Feauto, who was the KCAC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing six touchdown passes against Saint Mary last Saturday, said it was a matter of taking what was available.
“A back like Prewitt they’re going to do everything they can to stop him,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to run solid routes and get open and the receivers did a good job. Stevie can beat anybody deep, Carmack played great today and Rich stepped up big. We got tight ends involved, Poe-Evans played great.”
Feauto said his job was easy given the time he had to survey the field before throwing.
“The O-Line gave me a ton of time,” he said. “They’d blitz and I’d still have about three seconds to throw. When that happens you can find a lot of holes in the defense.”
Prewitt scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 1-yard run with 3:02 left in the first quarter, giving the Coyotes a 7-0 lead.
Southwestern answered on a 71-yard pass from William Mueller to Brooks Shannon on the first play of the second quarter, tying the game at 7.
The Coyotes promptly responded three plays later when Feauto found Williams for a 35-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the second quarter. They had connected on a 38-yard gain on the play before.
That began a 24-point blitz in the quarter that gave KWU a 31-7 halftime lead. Prewitt scored again from the 1, one play after Feauto hit Carmack for a 55-yard gain. Takota Anderson’s first of two interceptions on the day gave the Coyotes possession at the Southwestern 22, and Feauto and Poe-Evans hooked up for a 22-yard touchdown two plays later, making it 28-7 with 6:49 left in the quarter. Juan Herrera’s 19-yard field goal on the final play of the half accounted for the final three points.
Feauto’s touchdown pass to Williams after the Southwestern score was pivotal, according to the players.
“Man, that was huge,” McCauley said. “That’s what Stevie brings us, the deep ball. Every single play he’s a deep ball threat. Just having him out there on the other side is really, really nice.”
“We had to kill their momentum,” Feauto said. “They had that big touchdown pass and we knew we couldn’t give them hope. So, we marched down and got that big score. It was huge for our morale and it was big to break theirs.”
Hendrickson said the second quarter explosion was decisive.
“That 24 points in the second quarter is when we took control of the game,” he said. “And the defense played really well throughout the course of the second quarter as well. I think that’s when we controlled it.”
Southwestern got within 17 twice in the third quarter. Caleb Helsley intercepted a Feauto pass on the first play of the second half and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown, making it 31-14.
The Coyotes then drove 75 yards in 10 plays, Poe-Evans catching a 4-yard touchdown pass from Feauto that made it 38-14 with 10:34 left in the quarter.
Southwestern cut it 17 again two plays later when Jaquils Coleman ran 67 yards for a touchdown, cutting the deficit to 38-21 with 9:40 remaining.
Feauto connected with Williams for an 11-yard touchdown with 1:11 left in the quarter for the final points of the game – the seven-play, 61-yard drive highlighted by Feauto’s 40-yard pass to McCauley.
The Coyotes’ defense surrendered 305 total yards and allowed 14 points on the day. Southwestern’s freshmen quarterbacks Mueller and Yizalle Whitfield were a combined 9 of 21 passing for 159 yards – Rashaan Broomfield grabbing one along with Anderson’s pair, giving him five for the season. Senior end Shaq Bradford had a team-best six tackles that included two more sacks.
“The defense played fantastic,” Hendrickson said. “We’ll take it anyway we can get it. Twenty-one points is not a representation of how well our defense played, offense was responsible for some of those.
“Defensively we were getting to the football and flying around and they had a couple of big plays. Takota Anderson plays incredible football, he’s a ballhawk back there. He does a great job getting to the football. Our pass defense was fantastic and the run defense was dominant, like usual.”
The Coyotes are back on the road again next Saturday when they travel to Kansas City, Mo., to play Avila for a 1 p.m. conference game. The Eagles (4-2 overall, 4-2 KCAC) were idle Saturday and have won their last four games, averaging 38.8 points in the process.