It certainly wasn’t the start Kansas Wesleyan wanted in its game against the rival Bethany Swedes.
Coming off a stunning 30-24 loss to Bethel a week earlier No. 18 KWU wanted to get out of the gate fast against a young and winless Bethany team. But a fumble in Bethany territory on the first drive of the game preceded a 72-yard Swedes’ drive that resulted in a touchdown and a 6-0 deficit 8½ minutes into the contest.
“It was definitely an eye opener to us because we came out a little flat and we really need to ramp it up,” KWU tailback Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.) said. “So, after that we really turned it up from there on out.”
Indeed, they did and Boston played a key role.
The Coyotes (3-1) scored on their next possession and never looked back in a 49-6 Kansas Conference victory Saturday night at JRI Stadium in Graves Family Sports Complex. It was their eighth consecutive win over Bethany and the 10th in 11 games.
Boston, a transfer from Shasta College (Calif.), rushed for a team-best 96 yards on 15 carries as KWU shredded Bethany’s defense for 602 total yards – 343 rushing and 259 passing. Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio) threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 64 yards and a score while Paden Hazuga (SR/San Diego, Calif.) caught five passes for 94 yards and two TDs.
Defensively the Coyotes held the Swedes to a minus-2 yards rushing and 202 total yards.
Boston said the loss to Bethel stung – the Threshers scored the game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds left.
“It hit right in the heart but it hit where it needed to hit and made us focus the way we need to to continue on the season the way we want to,” he said. “We kind of struggled last week a little bit in the pass game and the run game so we were just trying to bounce back and make something of ourselves.”
KWU coach Matt Myers was pleased with the way his team rebounded.
“I was I was happy; I was happy with how the week went, I’m happy with tonight,” he said. “It’s a good win, I don’t care what you do. When you beat someone 49-6 and hold them (minus-2) yards rushing that’s a good night.”
Wesleyan drove 68 yards on 11 plays for the go-ahead touchdown – White hitting Justin Clutterbuck with a 3-yard scoring pass with 2:52 left in the opening quarter.
White then ran 8 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the second quarter and KWU led 14-6. White threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Hazuga with 8:56 left in the half for a 21-6 lead and it stayed that way until intermission.
Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) ran 8 yards for a touchdown with 8:59 left in the third quarter and Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas) went 33 yards for a score 5:40 left in the same quarter giving the Coyotes a 35-6 lead that they took into the fourth quarter.
KWU added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter – a 30-yard pass from White to Hazuga and D’Heaven Domena (FR/Charlotte, N.C.)’s 12-yard run with 4:43 left.
Boston, who hails from Dixon, Calif., ran with power displayed good balance which he attributes to his years as a track athlete and wrestler.
“As I’m coming off a hurdle my toe hits or I get knocked off balance and I need to be able to keep them to go full speed,” he said.
Boston said the Coyotes’ focus during the week was on themselves and how they perform.
“It’s about focusing on ourselves and playing our game instead of playing down to somebody else’s level,” he said. “That’s our main focus and that’s going to be our main focus for the rest of the season.”
Allsman finished with 87 yards rushing on 14 carries and Benjamin 61 on 11 attempts. Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.) caught seven passes for 74 yards as eight different Coyotes had catches.
Myers praised White who bounced back after a rough outing against Bethel. He was 20 of 27 with one interception against Bethany.
“Tony is one of those guys if he goes out there and rips it with confidence he’s going to be alright,” he said. “It’s our job to make sure that he does that, he’s out there confident and feeling it and delivering the ball down the field. When he does it and combines that with his legs he’s very good. He’s a good player and he will continue to get better as we roll through the season.”
Bethany quarterbacks Alec Giragosian and Peyton Mainolfi were a combined 15 of 30 passing for 135 yards and two interceptions – Jordan Dupre (JR/Little Elm, Texas) and Malik’Khari Mullens with the picks for KWU.
“We didn’t give up anything and that’s what we wanted,” Myers said. “We corrected a few angles with our defensive front. That’s what we expect, we expect to have negative to zero-yard gains – put the offense behind the (first down) sticks. That’s when you win football games.”
KWU plays Saint Mary (1-3, 1-2 KCAC) next Saturday starting at 1 p.m. in Leavenworth. The Spires lost to Friends 38-20 Saturday night in Wichita.