Football falls to Ottawa 27-24 in overtime

OTTAWA – The difference between playing in the postseason and having the season end next week came down to two measly yards for the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes.KWU drove to Ottawa’s 2-yard line in overtime but had to settle for a field goal. The Braves were able to go the distance during their overtime possession and emerged with a 27-24 Kansas Conference and Gene Bissell Division victory Saturday afternoon.The loss ended the Coyotes’ playoff hopes and dropped them to 7-3 overall, 3-1 in the division. It also halted their six-game winning streak and was their first loss to Ottawa since 2014. KWU will play Sterling on Senior Day in the season finale at 1 p.m. next Saturday at JRI Stadium and the Graves Family Sports Complex.Ottawa (6-4, 4-0 division) secures the automatic bid to the NAIA Championship Series that begins later this month with the victory.Tied at 21 after regulation the Coyotes got the ball first in overtime. A 14-yard pass from Byron McNair to Luke Armstrong gave them a first down at the Ottawa 5-yard line but three running plays gained three yards. After a penalty on fourth down they settled for Talon Cope’s 29-yard field goal that gave them a 24-21 lead.Wynton Ruth’s 20-yard run on Ottawa’s first play in overtime gave the Braves a first down at the KWU 5. Ruth gained a yard on the next play then ran into the end zone from the 4 for the game winning touchdown.Ruth, a senior tailback and reigning KCAC Offensive Player of the Week, led Ottawa with 96 yards rushing on 20 carries and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season.The Coyotes outgained Ottawa 374-307 in total yards but McNair was sacked four times and KWU was penalized 13 times for 107 yards.McNair was 13 of 23 passing for 170 yards and an interception. Mark Benjamin led the offense with 133 yards rushing on 16 carries that included a 65-yard touchdown run with 7:40 left in the third quarter that gave KWU a brief 21-14 lead.Ottawa responded 13 seconds later, though, when Malik Patterson took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 86 yards for the game-tying touchdown.Wesleyan played without leading rusher Tyler Boston who suffered a season-ending injury against Tabor a week earlier. Zarek Fewell had 38 yards rushing on nine carries and Nick Allsman 25 yards on 13 attempts.Ottawa scored first on Billy Maples’ 13-yard pass to De’Anthony Curtis with 8:44 left in the first quarter.KWU drew even on Benjamin’s 2-yard run with 11:27 left in the half that capped an 87-yard, 13-play drive but Ottawa went back on top 14-7 on Maples’ 11-yard pass to Jayden Johnson with 7:12 left in the half.The Coyotes tied it 14-14 on Fewell’s six-yard run with 1:22 left in the half, the 12th play of a 68-yard drive.Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.Maples was 10 of 22 passing for 158 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and was sacked twice.Linebackers Ricco Moore and Shaylan Lewis led the KWU defense with 10 tackles apiece.