WICHITA – A 31-0 halftime lead was fine from a cosmetics standpoint but Kansas Wesleyan coach Myers Hendrickson was less than enamored with his team’s performance during the first 30 minutes of play Saturday night.
He expressed his displeasure during halftime, starting with the Coyotes’ desire and fire, or lack thereof.
“We challenged the team at halftime to come out and be the more excited team that plays,” Hendrickson said. “It’s back to 0 to 0, we need to go out and play with incredible excitement and we told everybody this is the start of the game. We’re starting back over because a lot of things, especially offensively, didn’t go the way we wanted them to.”
His message was well received.
The Coyotes scored on all four of their possessions in the third quarter and pulled away for a convincing 65-7 Kansas Conference victory over Friends at Adair-Austin Stadium.
KWU’s seventh consecutive victory over the Falcons featured a balanced and potent offensive thrust, suffocating defensive effort and stellar special teams play. Wesleyan finished with 505 yards total offense compared to Friends’ 123 yards – just 31 passing – and the Coyotes blocked two Falcons’ punts that led to or resulted in touchdowns.
“I was excited about how we responded,” Hendrickson said.
Isaiah Randalle (JR/Sacramento, Calif.) picked up where he ended the 2020 season, completing 18 of 34 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns – two to Eren Jenkins (FR/Chicago, Ill.) and one each to Stevie Williams (SO/East Los Angeles, Calif.), Jake McClure (JR/Wichita, Kan.) and Jacquante Pitts (JR/Miami, Fla.).
Williams caught seven passed for 106 yards and Jenkins three for 101 yards. Drevon Macon (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.) had 75 yards rushing on just three carries, C.J. Fluker added 50 yards and Nick Allman also had 50.
“We were struggling in the first half but we came back after halftime and we just did the job we needed to do,” Randalle said. “Coach told us what the objective was at halftime and we just followed the objective.”
Randalle suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury on the first play of the fourth quarter but fortunately it was something much less.
“I cramped up, I’m good,” he said. “I’ll get some pickle juice.”
Defensively Julian Urioste (FR/Portales, N.M.) set the tone with interceptions on each of Friends’ first two possessions and the Coyotes kept Friends’ sophomore quarterback Joshua Morris on the run the entire night. Morris was 7 of 28 for 31 yards and the two interceptions.
“I just wanted to get a quick start to the game, get the energy going since we were out there on defense first,” Urioste said. “We wanted to get the offense the ball and give them the best chance to score.”
Urioste said the defense had to adjust on the fly at the start of the game.
“We had to get a feel for their offense because they’ve got a new offensive coordinator so we weren’t a hundred percent sure what they were going to come out with,” he said. “We made a couple of adjustments that needed to be fixed. Once those were fixed it was game on.”
Hendrickson was thrilled with his defense.
“We never let them get any confidence offensively which set the table for a dominant defensive performance,” he said. “I thought the defense played lights out football, really excited about the different groups of people we had in and the way we played was impressive.”
Hendrickson said the key play in the game came just before halftime when Tony Brown (JR/Austin, Texas) blocked a Friends’ punt and recovered the loose ball at Friends’ 10-yard line. Randalle hit Pitts with a 9-yard touchdown pass four plays later with 18 seconds left in the half making it 31-0.
“That was the changing point and gave us the momentum going into the second half,” he said.
Wesleyan scored on its first possession of the game going 54 yards on four plays, Randalle hitting Jenkins with a 34-yard touchdown pass with 12:26 left in the first quarter. Aaron Main (JR/Tulsa, Okla.) kicked the first of his three field goals, a 38-yarder, with 7:17 left for a 10-0 lead.
Randalle’s 25-yard touchdown pass to McClure on the sixth play of the second quarter upped the ante to 17-0. Macon dashed 34 yards for a touchdown on a Fly Sweep that made it 24-0 with 1:56 left in the half and Randalle hit Pitts for the TD just 1:38 later.
Randalle threw touchdown strikes of 56 yards to Jenkins and 60 yards to Williams on KWU’s first two possessions of the third quarter. Main added a 25-yard field goal and Steve Harvey’s 3-yard run with 1:26 left capped the outburst that gave the Coyotes an insurmountable 56-10 lead going into the final period.
Main kicked a 27-yard field goal and Jake Burritt (JR/Fort Pierce, Fla.) recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 9:15 remaining for the game’s final points.
“First game there’s always going to be some things in the timing and you are full speed and playing another ballclub that you have to iron out,” Hendrickson said. “I think the second half we got that done and it was good to see.”
The Coyotes play Sterling in their home opener next Saturday starting at 6 p.m. at Graves Family Sports Complex.