It would have been difficult – perhaps impossible – for Matt Myers to write a better script for himself and his Kansas Wesleyan football team in their first game of the season.
The No. 12-ranked Coyotes dominated in all three phases and appear primed for another NAIA playoff run following a 70-0 Kansas Conference victory over Friends before a sellout and record crowd of 2,208 Saturday night in the newly christened JRI Stadium at Graves Family Sports Complex.
KWU displayed a balanced offensive thrust that consumed 562 yards and accounted for 56 points.
The defense posted a shutout, limited Friends to 166 total yards and scored a touchdown.
Special teams were sensational as well and featured a punt return for a touchdown.
Not a bad debut.
“There’s a few penalties we need to clean up and shave off two or three mental lapses, I don’t have anything to complain about, obviously,” Myers said. “It feels good.”
Myers was in charge for the first time after patrolling the KWU sidelines as an assistant for six years but he had the Coyotes ready from the get-go. They scored on four of their five possessions in the first half and got a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown from Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.) en route to a 35-0 halftime lead.
The second half was more of the same as they scored on all four possessions and notched the defensive touchdown when linebacker DeVante’ Gabriel picked up a loose ball on an errant Friends pitch and ran 56 yards for a touchdown.
The Coyotes led 49-0 after three quarters and didn’t skip a beat in the fourth quarter when the reserves took over.
KWU’s 334 rushing yards and 228 passing made difficult for Friends to know what was coming next. Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.) led the ground attack with 98 yards on eight carries and scored three touchdowns; Mark Benjamin (SO/Houston, Texas), healthy after suffering a knee injury last season, had 96 yards on 13 carries; Tyler Boston (JR/Dixon, Calif.) 53 yards on eight tries; quarterback Tony White (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio) 50 on nine carries and Steve Harvey 7 for 28.
“If we can do that then we can control the game when we need to,” Myers said. “(Offensive coordinator James) Bauer did a good job varying tempos and going fast. And we made really good decisions.”
“Our running backs know what they have to come in and do every week,” White said. “They play a big part in our offense and will be good for us this year.”
White said a successful running game, one that includes himself, makes the passing attack easier and more effective.
“If I see an opening, I’m going to take it and use my athletic ability,” he said. “When the running game does what it’s got to do it opens up the pass and makes easy work.”
White and backup Richard Lara (SO/Bakersfield, Calif.) quarterback were a combined 10 of 16 passing for 228 yards – White 7 of 12 for 172 yards – and a touchdown each.
Myers was pleased with the revamped wide receiver corps. Rhadarious Lomax-Spivey (FR/Aurora, Ill.), a freshman, had three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown, Drevon Macon one for 55 yards and Woody Banks (SO/Lewisville, Texas) two for 51 and a TD.
“Protection was good all night long, we only gave up one sack,” he said. “Woody Banks had an incredible catch for a touchdown, Spivey made a couple of really good plays. We miss Stevie Williams and Eren Jenkins but we had eight guys that showed up to play receiver tonight so it’s our job to get them the ball and get them opportunities.”
Defensively the Coyotes suffocated Friends’ Flexbone option attack. The Falcons finished with 150 yards rushing on 51 attempts – an average of 2.9 per carry. Mullen and his backup Andrew Arnold were a combined 2 of 7 passing for 16 yards.
White, who was the backup quarterback last fall for former coach Myers Hendrickson, said he and his teammates wanted to win for their new boss.
“It was big, that’s something the team talked about and we wanted to do for him, get him his first win,” he said. “We love him.”
The Coyotes travel to Sterling next Saturday for their first road game, kickoff at 6 p.m. at Smisor Stadium. The Warriors lost to Saint Mary 37-11 in their opener Saturday in Leavenworth.