It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Kansas Wesleyan, but coach Myers Hendrickson remains convinced the Coyotes are a quality football team.
Playing from behind the entire game KWU got within one score three times in the second half, but couldn’t get a defensive stop when it needed one. The result was a 46-38 Kansas Conference and homecoming loss to Avila on Saturday at Graves Family Sports Complex.
The setback was the second in two weeks for the Coyotes, who fell to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the KCAC. Avila improved to 3-1 overall and conference.
KWU fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and trailed 26-17 at halftime. The Coyotes got within 26-24 and 33-31 in the third quarter, and 46-38 with just over 5 minutes left in the game.
The Eagles, though, answered with touchdowns the first two times and didn’t let KWU get a final chance late in the game, running out the clock with four first downs.
Quarterback John Jacobs III was the primary culprit, throwing for 313 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 92 yards and two more scores. Tailback Malik Nesbitt added 198 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and tight end Andrew Miller caught six passes for 145 yards and a TD as the Eagles had 594 total yards.
Jacobs was 12 of 27 passing with an interception, but had six completions that went for 23 yards or more.
“They’re incredibly talented on offense,” Hendrickson said. “The quarterback is special, the receivers are special, they have a great tailback, too. They’re just good everywhere, they don’t have a weakness on their offense.
“We were still there, though. If we put a full game together, we are really tough to beat, if we put a full game together, we really can’t be beat. We’re just not putting the whole game together right now and that’s the frustrating part.”
Wesleyan had 520 yards on the day and spread the wealth. Isaiah Randalle (JR/Sacramento, Calif.) threw for 204 yards, Tony Brown (JR/Austin, Texas) had 131 total yards (96 passing, 35 rushing), Eren Jenkins (SR/Chicago, Ill.) had 115 yards receiving and Quincy Sandoval (SO/Salt Lake City, Utah) 66 yards rushing.
Randalle and Brown split time at quarterback and were a combined 19 of 44 passing (Randalle 12 of 30, Brown 7 of 14). Jenkins and Stevie Williams (SR/Los Angeles, Calif.) caught five passes each.
But the offense was impacted by the fact the Coyotes were in catch-up mode the entire time.
“I was proud of the fact we put a sense of urgency on the offense and had to take shots and had to take risks, and we did that for 60 minutes without a turnover,” Hendrickson said. “It was a close game, closer probably than what the score showed and we came out on the wrong end.”
Williams scored on a 7-yard run after taking a handoff from Roy “Fridge” Sanders on KWU’s first possession of the second half, cutting the deficit to 26-24, but Avila answered on Jacobs III 1-yard run for a 33-24 lead.
Sanders’ 43-yard burst into the end zone made it 33-31 with 4:40 left in the quarter.
Following an Avila punt the Coyotes drove to the Eagles’ 30-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but Randalle was sacked on fourth-down.
Nesbitt ran for touchdowns on Avila’s next two possessions, giving the Eagles a 46-31 lead with 6:43 left.
KWU answered on Sanders’ 1-yard run with 5:09 left, capping a quick five-play, 70-yard drive.
Avila took over at its own 34-yard line and drove deep into the Wesleyan territory to close out the game – Jacobs III being stopped short of the goal line on fourth down on the final play.
“At the end of the game we were getting our Hail Mary group ready because they had to get a first down or our offense is going back on the field and it’s a one-score game,” Hendrickson said. “Obviously we needed a lot of yards to get on that one play, but we were going to give it a shot to go down and score and try to get the two-point conversion.”
Sandoval scored both Wesleyan touchdowns on runs of 14 and two yards and Jhonatan Morales (SR/La Belle, Fla.) kicked a 24-yard field goal in the first half. Sandoval, though, left the game with an injury midway through the third quarter and didn’t return.
KWU goes on the road next Saturday for a KCAC game against McPherson, starting at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs were idle Saturday and are 3-3 on the season after losing their last two games, at Southwestern (31-0) and at Ottawa (31-13).