Kansas Wesleyan coach Matt Myers knew what Bethel quarterback DJ Ciers could do to an opposing defense.
“Their quarterback is fast, very fast,” he said of Ciers last week in advance of the Coyotes’ game against the Threshers. “If they have success, it’s him running the ball.”
Bethel did have success against KWU and Ciers was the architect. The diminutive and elusive dual-threat sophomore from Houston ran for 63 yards and a touchdown and threw for 98 yards and another score in leading the No. 22 Threshers to a 30-24 Kansas Conference upset of the ninth-ranked Coyotes on Sunday night at JRI Stadium.
The game was played Sunday after severe weather Saturday night forced the game to be postponed 24 hours.
“He got loose a couple of times on us and you always have to be cautious of really fast quarterbacks,” Myers said. “They can really change the game.”
The Coyotes (2-1) took a 24-16 lead into the fourth quarter after Trey Boston scored from the 8-yard line with 1:59 left in the third quarter, capping a 12-play, 75-yard drive that featured 10 running plays.
But Ciers engineered two scoring drives the final 15 minutes. The Threshers (3-0) went 57 yards on seven plays for the first touchdown, Ciers scoring from the 1 then scrambling into the end zone for a two-point conversion that tied it at 24 left in the game.
The Coyotes were forced to punt on their possession and Bethel began its final drive at it’s 40-yard line with 2:05 remaining. Ciers ran 18 yards on second down and two plays later threw a 25-yard pass to Tucker Smith. Chantz Scurry finished it with a 12-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds left.
“(Bethel) stayed in the fight and came through late with some big plays,” Myers said. “We just needed to make one or two more plays.”
Myers said Bethel adjusted its defense after KWU had success running the ball on its long drive in the third quarter.
“They brought a little bit more pressure off the edge and got some tackles in the backfield,” he said. “We’ve got to be more efficient in our pass game and deliver the ball laterally a bit more.”
The Coyotes scored first on Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio)’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.) with 5:56 left in the first quarter but turned the ball over on its next two possessions. Brenden Sanders intercepted a Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.) pass and returned it 46 yards for touchdown that tied the game 7-7 2½ minutes after the Coyotes’ score.
Bethel then recovered a fumble at the KWU 21 and scored three plays later on Ciers’ 24-yard pass to Brayden Francis with 1:31 left in the quarter. The PAT kick failed, making it 13-7.
The Coyotes drove to the Bethel 15 midway through the second quarter before stalling but Aaron Main (SR/Tulsa, Okla.)’s 32-yard field goal narrowed the deficit to 13-10 with 8:04 left in the half.
Bethel answered with a long drive of its own to the KWU 5. The Threshers lined up for a 26-yard field goal attempt on fourth down. Woody Banks (SO/Lewisville, Texas) produced the play of the game for the Coyotes blocking the kick, scooping up the loose ball and sprinting 81-yards for a touchdown, eluding several tacklers along the way. Main’s PAT made it 17-13 with 5:31 left in the half and it remained that way to halftime.
A 32-yard Bethel field goal trimmed the Coyotes’ advantage to 17-16 with 6:20 left in the third quarter and preceded KWU’s final scoring drive.
Wesleyan finished with 306 total yards, 193 rushing and 113 passing. Bethel totaled 290 yards, 192 rushing and 98 passing.
White was 10 of 21 for 113 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and was sacked twice. Nicholas Allsman had 77 yards rushing on 16 carries and Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas) 49 yards on 16 tries. Macon was the top receiver with four catches for 57 yards.
DeVante’ Gabriel led the KWU defense with 10 tackles and Cole Parker (SR/Corning, Calif.) had nine.
Ciers was 8 of 12 with one touchdown, one interception and was sacked once. The 225-pound Scurry had 61 yards rushing and Kayden Christiansen 51.
“We missed a couple of guys deep and had a couple of chances to go and make some plays and we just didn’t make them,” Myers said. “We need shore up some (pass) protection stuff and we’ll be alright.”
The weather delay didn’t help anyone, Myers said.
“(Bethel) battled through the same stuff but it was just a really long weekend,” he said.
Up next for KWU is a home game against arch rival Bethany on Saturday. Kickoff is 7 p.m. in JRI Stadium.
“The pressure’s off,” Myers said, “Now you get to go play football and see what happens. The guys are upset, we put a lot of time and effort into this. You’re only guaranteed 11 Saturdays. It’s not ideal to lose one but we’ll come back and keep working.”