Isaiah Randalle (JR/Sacramento, Calif.) and his Kansas Wesleyan teammates were thrilled to play a game after being idle for two consecutive weekends.
But Randalle, the Coyotes’ dynamic and strong-armed quarterback, had another reason to be excited to get back on Bissell Field at the Graves Family Sports Complex on Saturday.
“Back home (in Sacramento, Calif.) the family was watching (on livestream) and they were excited for me,” he said. “Man, it felt good.”
Randalle’s family saw him at his best, once again, as he threw for 339 yards, three touchdowns and ran for another score in leading No. 6 Wesleyan to a 42-6 non-conference victory over William Penn.
It was the Coyotes’ first game after their contest September 26 against Ottawa was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and a scheduled bye week on October 3. They were slated to play at Saint Mary on Saturday, but that game was also postponed because of the pandemic.
KWU administrators worked feverishly to find an opponent and William Penn answered the call last Sunday.
“It was just a good feeling being off two weeks and coming in and playing again,” Randalle said.
Wesleyan improved to 3-0 in advance of next Saturday’s key Kansas Conference clash against Southwestern at GFSC.
Randalle, who was named the Kansas Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week after his outing against Bethany on September 19, said the layoff didn’t affect him and credited the team’s practice sessions. The Coyotes had 463 total yards on 62 plays – an average of 7.5 yards per play.
“We improved during the break, practice day by day, working every day for two weeks straight,” he said. “Every day we took mental reps, physical reps – that’s where it all starts, in practice. We executed in practice, we came and executed in the game and it showed.
Randalle entered the contest on the Coyotes’ third series and drove them 77 yards for a touchdown – the final eight yards on a Quincy Sandoval (SO/Salt Lake City, Utah) run.
Randalle then hooked up with Stevie Williams (SR/Long Beach, Calif.) for a 45-yard touchdown – Williams leaping over a William Penn defender, grabbing the ball and backing untouched into the end zone – midway through the second quarter.
Sandovall scored from the 3 on the Coyotes’ next possession, capping a three-play, 50-yard drive. Randalle ended his sensational first-half performance – 248 yards passing – with a 9-yard scoring toss to Eren Jenkins (SR/Chicago, Ill.) with 25 seconds left.
Randalle hit Roy “Fridge” Sanders with a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter that made it 35-0, and capped his day with a 10-yard touchdown run with 8:38 left in the game.
Randalle was 20 of 26 passing, completing passes to seven different receivers.
“Isaiah was phenomenal, he was very efficient,” KWU coach Myers Hendrickson said. “We really started to hit our stride there about halfway through the first quarter and then we just took off from there. It was good to see.”
Williams turned in another All-America performance with six catches for 119 yards while Jenkins had four for 79 yards and Charlie Simmons (JR/Saint Johns, Fla.) three for 66 yards – Jenkins adding his name to the list of tall and talented receivers Randalle can depend on.
“Charlie Simmons and Stevie Williams are my main targets, but E.A. Jenkins comes in and he steps up also and had a good day today,” Randalle said.
Wesleyan’s defense turned in its best effort of the season, limiting William Penn to 263 yards total offense that included 195 rushing – 111 below the season average.
Linebacker Zyair Velazquez (SR/San Diego, Calif.) led the way with a team-best 12 tackles, five for losses. Scott Helsper (SR/Coeur D’Alene, Idaho) and Justin Sullivan (SR/Salina, Kan.) added nine tackles apiece.
“The game plan was phenomenal, the players bought into it and were extremely disciplined,” Hendrickson said. “They do throw a lot of different things at you on offense and they do present some unique challenges. Our players were bought-in from the time we put the game plan in and the defensive staff did a phenomenal job coaching it and teaching it, and the results showed.”
Hendrickson credited the defense with giving the team an early lift. Crehan completed a 65-yard pass to Adrian Aviles to the KWU 12-yard line on William Penn’s first offensive play, but the defense held and placekicker Austin Ogletree-Wolf missed a 30-yard field goal attempt, keeping the game scoreless.
“We had a couple of punts early in the game and the defense came out and just shut them down from the get-go, and that was the difference in the game,” Hendrickson said.
The Statesmen were without injured fullback Ben Sherman, who leads the NAIA in rushing. Starting quarterback Alex Crehan was injured on the first offensive series and didn’t return.
Hendrickson said his team was eager to play after the unexpected break.
“It was a great week of preparation,” he said. “We presented our players with a challenge and they responded to it. They were so excited to play and we preached discipline the entire week. We said Saturday morning the scoreboard will show where we’re at from a discipline standpoint.
“We found out exactly where we’re at – the challenge was accepted. … It was another good win.”
*Photos by Tanner Colvin*