Brianna Hernandez-Silva (JR/Las Vegas, Nev.) didn’t need to look at the Graves Family Sports Complex scoreboard to know she and her Kansas Wesleyan flag football teammates have dramatically improved since the start of the program’s first season.
“As a team from day one we’ve grown so much,” Hernandez-Silva said. “Especially playing as a team and coming together and meshing. Doing what we do best and knowing that all of our hard work in practice is paying off and come game time we’re ready to step on the field and play.”
That certainly was the case Friday during the Coyotes’ 37-6 rout of Midland in their regular season finale. The score spotlighted the vast improvement – they lost to the Warriors 24-14 April 2 in Fremont, Neb.
“Honestly today we just wanted to let them know that they can’t hang with us,” Hernandez-Silva said. “That (last) game wasn’t supposed to happen like that so we just wanted to prove to them it shouldn’t have happened that way.”
The Coyotes ended the regular season with a 4-6 record but have won two of their last three.
Friday, they broke a scoreless tie with 24 unanswered points in the second quarter, led 24-6 at halftime and tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter in their most impressive outing of the spring.
Hernandez-Silva did her part and more, accounting for 118 total yards and directly having a hand in five of the six touchdowns. She rushed for 66 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown and caught six passes for 62 yards and two TDs. She also completed 5 of 6 passes for 72 yards and two more scores.
KWU finished with 292 total yards – 203 passing and 89 rushing.
As good as the offense was the defense was at least as good if not better. Leading 6-0 after Hernandez-Silva’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Rubino early in the second quarter the KWU defense dug in and held Midland on downs on the next two possessions.
Sabrina Saldate (JR/Las Vegas, Nev.) hit Hernandez-Silva with a 7-yard touchdown pass making it 12-0 after the defense held Midland on downs at its own 14-yard line. Midland stalled at its 15-yard line on the next series and Saldate and Hernandez-Silva connected again for a score four plays later, this one covering 6 yards for an 18-0 lead.
After stalling again on its third consecutive possession Midland opted to punt from its 22-yard line but the result was equally disastrous. Saldate fielded the punt, ran 13 yards and lateraled the ball to Ja’Daa Wilson (FR/Crawfordville, Fla.), who sprinted the final 20 yards for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead with 3:05 left in the half.
Midland’s lone touchdown came with 36 seconds left in the half.
Hernandez-Silva threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Rubino early in the fourth quarter and the conversion gave KWU a 31-6 lead. The Coyotes capped their scoring on Hernandez-Silva’s 9-yard run with 7:17 left.
Saldate was 17 of 32 passing for 131 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Rubino caught seven passes for 78 yards and two TDs while Wilson had six catches for 51 yards.
The defense put an exclamation mark on its effort by stopping Midland on downs at the KWU 1-yard line late in the game. Reagan Martin (FR/San Manuel, Ariz.) led the defense with eight tackles while Hernandez-Silva had six.
“Having that field position, as we’ve learned, is such a big advantage,” coach Mike Famiglietti said. “If you control that it sets it up so easy for your offense.”
Midland quarterback Mikaela Nunez was 24 of 47 passing for 241 yards but was intercepted twice and sacked twice. The Warriors had 0 yards rushing on 11 attempts in the game.
“We’ve really felt the growth of our team ever since the beginning of the year,” Famiglietti said. “Our ladies came out ready to play. They took the challenge and we wanted to make a big statement right before Atlanta (NAIA Championships April 29). We feel we’ve grown a lot as a team and family and this is definitely a great way to go into that.”
Famiglietti credits the team’s practice sessions.
“Our ladies have to practice offense and defense, they have to be ready for both sides of the ball every game,” he said. “The extra time with each other and experiencing that success we’ve had just really boosts us to be better.”