It would have been difficult – likely impossible – to have scripted a better sendoff for Kansas Wesleyan’s 31 seniors.
Playing on a perfect autumn day before a sizeable crowd of family, friends and fans Saturday at JRI Stadium and the Graves Family Sports Complex the Coyotes crushed Arkansas Baptist 67-10 in the final home game for a large and wildly successful senior class.
It was KWU’s 51st victory in the past five seasons, 38th in the last four.
“It was it was a really, really good day,” said running back Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) who had 63 yards on six carriers and scored a touchdown in his last home game. “Really big senior group. A lot of us playing together for three or four years so it means a lot.
“It was an emotional game for the four seniors in the offensive line and the running backs. They blocked really well and made it easy for us.”
KWU had 447 total yards, 238 rushing as 13 different Coyotes carried the ball. Jarren Hightower (SR/Oklahoma City, Okla.), the Coyotes’ starting left guard, scored a touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter and defensive end Cole Parker (SR/Corning, Calif.) had a 13-yard gain among his two carries in the final quarter when KWU coach Matt Myers inserted several defensive seniors on offense for two plays.
“I am a little bit nervous,” Allsman said with a smile when asked if he’s concerned that Hightower or Parker might take his job. “They looked pretty good today when they got the ball in space. The D-line package they threw in there was really cool too. It’s good to see those guys have some fun on senior day.”
“I think they’ll be begging for it next week,” Myers said with a grin when asked if Hightower or Parker could move to the backfield. “That was just Senior Day fun letting those guys get out there and do a couple things that they don’t normally get to do. Jarren got to score the first offensive line ever so that was good to see.”
The Coyotes were in control from the get-go scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions. They also got a defensive touchdown when ABC quarterback Marlon Patterson couldn’t corral an errant snap and linebacker Ricardo Garcia (JR/Reno, Nev.) scooped up the loose ball and scored from the 2 making it 21-0 with 7:36 left in the first quarter.
Allsman scored the first touchdown of the day on a 12-yard run and Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.) went in from the 1 after that. Following Garcia’s score Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas)’s 2-yard scoring run made it 28-0 with 3:55 left in the opening quarter and the Coyotes scored again on Boston’s 39-yard jaunt early in the second quarter.
KWU led 35-0 at halftime.
“We wanted to really jump on them early and just suck any kind of energy they may have had out of them,” Allsman said.
Wesleyan tacked on three touchdowns in the third quarter – Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio)’s 48-yard pass to Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.), White’s 23-yard run and Isaac Stanton (FR/Salina, Kan.)’s 40-yard pass to Jacquante Pitts (SR/Miami, Fla.) that gave the Coyotes a 56-2 lead going into the final quarter.
Aaron Main (SR/Tulsa, Okla.) kicked a 37-yard field goal making it 59-2 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. ABC’s punter Fischer Ohrt kicked the ball into the back of a teammate on the Buffaloes’ next possession; Reese Nebel (SR/Hesston, Kan.) grabbed the ball and was pushed out of bounds at the 1 setting up Hightower’s touchdown that accounted for KWU’s final points.
“A lot of different guys got to play today which is good,” Myers said. “I think we came out 100 percent healthy, maybe a few bumps and bruises here and there but otherwise it’s good enough to go into final regular season game against Southwestern.”
KWU starting quarterback Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.) was 5 for 10 passing for 90 yards in just over a quarter of play. White and Stanton were each 3 of 5, Stanton throwing for 67 yards and White 52. Macon caught five passes for 118 yards.
Allsman praised the offensive line which includes four fellow senior starters – Jake Balderrama (SR/Moreno Valley, Calif.), Trace Ott (SR/Orange Beach, Ala.), Nolan Harris (SR/Lexington, Mo.) and Hightower.
“They’re monsters,” he said. “We’ve all been together since I got here so that’s three years now. They’re all dudes who show up every day and are really, really tough.”
Wesleyan’s defense was stellar yet again limiting Arkansas Baptist (1-7) to 109 total yards including eight yards rushing on 42 attempts. The Coyotes forced five fumbles, recovered two and had four sacks. Linebacker DeVante Gabriel (JR/Spring, Texas) led the way with eight tackles while lineman Dave De Sam Sapa (JR/Fort Collins, Colo.) had five.
ABC quarterbacks Patterson and Ohrt were a combined 10 of 21 for 101 yards. Atavian Ray had a team-best 27 yards rushing on 19 carries.
The Coyotes play No. 10 Southwestern at 1 p.m. next Saturday in Winfield in the regular season finale – their NAIA playoff hopes still flickering.
“Technically it’s probably a long shot but that’s out of our hands,” Myers said. “The only thing we can do is go down there and perform and see what happens.”