Johnny Feauto’s pass arched toward the end zone and an assembling crowd anxiously awaiting its arrival.
As the ball neared the ground a singular figure, Kansas Wesleyan’s athlete extraordinaire Charles Barnes III, soared above the mob and grabbed the pass before being yanked to the ground.
His 47-yard catch just across the goal line on the final play of the first half was the Coyotes’ seventh touchdown of the game and by far the most difficult.
It gave them an insurmountable 48-0 halftime lead and they rolled on unabated the second half en route to a record-setting 90-0 Kansas Conference and Homecoming victory Saturday afternoon at Graves Family Sports Complex.
The 90 points set a KCAC single-game record, breaking the old mark of 87. Their 793 total yards – 377 rushing and 416 passing – also set a single-game conference record.
“Dominant, that’s the only way to describe,” KWU coach Myers Hendrickson said of the No. 2 Coyotes’ sixth victory in six games and fifth in KCAC play. “You come off a bye week and you try get things fixed, you try to focus on the fundamentals. You self-scout, you try to improve in every phase of the game and I can say we did.”
Did they ever.
Feauto has been consistently superb during his 20-game KWU career but was never better than Saturday. He was 19 of 26 passing for 397 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and rushed for 35 yards on seven carries in two-and-a-half quarters of play.
Demarco Prewitt rushed for 127 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown the first half but didn’t play the second half. Ten receivers caught passes, led by Richard McCauley and Trent Poe-Evans with four each.
The reserves also sparkled. Running back Brandon Lowe ran for three touchdowns in the third quarter and freshman quarterback Peyton Farrington threw his first collegiate touchdown pass, an 11-yarder to Ryan Buresh, in the fourth quarter.
Defensively the Coyotes were close to perfect, allowing just 42 total yards on 53 plays, including a minus-7 yards rushing on 24 tries. The Spires managed just four first downs.
“Holding a team to under 50 yards of total offense in a 60-minute game and four first downs is incredible,” Hendrickson said.
Most of the Coyotes’ starters departed in the third quarter and none played the final 15 minutes.
“I think we just ended up wearing them down,” Feauto said. “Once they were worn down we were able to do whatever we wanted.”
He credited the offensive line for taking control.
“When you have Eli (Smith) and Fletch (Daniel Fletcher) and Alex (Gutierrez) all those guys hitting you every play you’re going to soften up pretty quick.”
The play everyone was buzzing about, though, was the Hail Mary just before halftime. Barnes is starting linebacker but is used on the play because of leaping ability.
It came after a KWU time out with 4 seconds left.
“We practice that every week,” Feauto said. “Rich (McCauley) usually catches it, I don’t think CB3 has caught one. The only time CB tried it he dropped it. That was just amazing, he went up and grabbed it out of the sky. That’s why he’s out there.”
“The ball went up in the air and I was just looking it,” Barnes said. “Then the wind blew it to my left so I just repositioned over and went up and got it.
“All their players were grabbing on me, they were more focused on grabbing me than the ball, I think. But either way, if they’d have jumped up I probably still would have come down with the ball because I want the ball more.”
Hendrickson said the Coyotes work on the play every Friday.
“It’s all about situational football,” he said. “It’s a situation that we practice every week. We had an opportunity to actually use it in a game and wanted to take advantage of it. “We have confidence in it and Charles Barnes is obviously one of the best athletes in our program. We put him out there in a jump ball situation and it worked out.”
Just about everything else the Coyotes did also worked out.
They led 20-0 after one quarter on Feauto-to-Johnny Carmack touchdown passes of 31 and 43 yards and a 67-yarder to a wide open Stevie Williams, who jogged into the end zone.
Feauto hit Poe-Evans with a 9-yard TD strike to start the second quarter, Prewitt scored from 1, Feauto hit Poe-Evans again from 2 yards out and ended the half with the bomb to Barnes.
Takota Anderson intercepted a pass – his third of the season – and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown to start the third quarter. Lowe followed with scoring runs of 4, 1 and 7 yards.
Quincy Sandoval had a 6-yard touchdown run and Farrington’s TD pass to Buresh accounted for the final 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Saint Mary’s offense struggled mightily all day. Freshman quarterbacks Troy Temmink and Jalil Grimes were a combined 12 of 29 for 49 yards, two interceptions and were under intense pressure the entire game. Running back Matthew Graham had 27 yards rushing on 18 carries.
The Coyotes had just two sacks but produced seven tackles for loss. Linebackers Jasper Chavez and Warren Singletary had seven and five tackles, respectively.
It was KWU’s second shutout of the season; they entered the game allowing an average of 12 points a game.
“We don’t stay long on a victory, we’re always looking to improve,” said Barnes, who had four tackles, one for loss. “We focus on the things that we mess up every game so each week we’re going to get better. We make our weaknesses our strengths.”
The task figure to be incrementally more difficult for the next two weeks. The Coyotes travel to Winfield next Saturday to play Southwestern, starting at 1 p.m., then go to Kansas City, Mo., on October 26 for a 1 p.m. game against Avila.
“It’s nice to have all those points and yards and records and everything but at the end of the day it’s still 1-0,” Hendrickson said. “We went 1-0 today but we did it in a big way. I’m proud that we improved during our bye week and came out and made it count.”
*Photos by Tanner Colvin*