Senior Day festivities, the final regular season home game of his career and a large group of family members in the stands didn’t hinder Demarco Prewitt (SR/Menifee, Calif.) and his Kansas Wesleyan teammates from finishing the mission.
Led by a balanced offensive thrust and resilient defensive effort the No. 3-ranked Coyotes took control early and never looked back en route to a 61-31 demolition of No. 25 Bethel on Saturday at Graves Family Sports Complex.
The victory gave KWU its second consecutive 11-0 regular season, including a 10-0 record against Kansas Conference competition.
More importantly it puts the Coyotes in line for a home game next Saturday in the first round of the NAIA playoffs. The 16-team field and first-round sites will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday. A watch party is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Student Activities Center on the KWU campus. The Facebook show will be streamed live on the big TV in the SAC.
Prewitt, the Coyotes’ All-America senior tailback, rushed for 146 yards and scored four touchdowns, Johnny Feauto (SR/Boulder, Colo.) threw for 293 yards and four touchdowns – two to Stevie Williams (JR/East Los Angeles, Calif.), who had highlight reel day with seven catches for 126 yards, including one that was Sports Center-worthy.
“It was a very memorable Senior Day,” said Prewitt, the KCAC’s leading rusher. “It’s a blessing to be here, it’s a blessing to play the way I did today. I’m honored to be part of this and part of this team.”
Any concerns about Senior Day distractions or possible trap game against a Thresher team that had won four in a row quickly evaporated. The Coyotes took the opening kickoff, drove 62 yards on 11 plays and took a 7-0 lead on Prewitt’s 5-yard run.
They made it 14-0 on their second possession, going 89 yards seven plays – Feauto hitting Williams with an 8-yard touchdown pass.
After Bethel scored, KWU scored twice on Feauto passes to Superback Roy Sanders (JR/Sacramento, Calif.) from 21 and 1 yard out, giving the Coyotes a 27-10 halftime advantage.
The first touchdown of the second quarter was set up on a pass from Johnny Carmack (SR/Santa Clara, Calif.) to Williams, who made a spectacular one-handed catch while battling a Bethel defender. Carmack took a handoff from Feauto on an apparent reverse but stopped and threw to Williams, who was sprinting down the right sideline.
“I ran the route and looked up, saw the ball was kind of over my head so I kind of made the catch with one hand,” said Williams, who gained 35 yards on the play and gave KWU a first down at the Bethel 11-yard line. “I brought it in with one hand and started bobbling it and the opposing team grabbed it. So I just grabbed it out of his hands and just fell down with it.”
“That was an incredible catch,” KWU coach Myers Hendrickson said. “I loved the catch in person and on the field, I can’t wait to see it on film. When you’ve got weapons like that you let your playmakers go make plays and that’s what they did.”
The Coyotes scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, the first two on Prewitt runs of 4 and 7 yards, giving them a 47-17 lead entering the final period.
Prewitt scored his fourth touchdown on a 6-yard run early in the quarter and Brandon Lowe (SR/Collinsville, Okla.)’s 1-yard run capped the Coyotes’ scoring.
Bethel (8-3 overall, 7-3 KCAC) entered the game ranked second in the KCAC against the run, allowing an average of 91 yards per game, but the Coyotes had 209.
“Demarco Prewitt and our senior-led offensive line,” Hendrickson said. “You believe in them, you trust them and they made plays and they were phenomenal the whole day.”
Feauto had yet another monstrous game. The NAIA’s total offense and passing leader completed 22 of 28 passes to eight different receivers, and also rushed for 58 yards on seven carries in his last regular-season game.
“Johnny Feauto is playing his best football right now, he really is,” Hendrickson said. “You look at his completion percentage, no turnovers, he takes care of the football, he’s the point guard of the offense, gets the ball where it needs to go … He was phenomenal today.”
Defensively the Coyotes gave up 445 yards, including 323 rushing but forced three turnovers – two fumbles and an interception.
Camryn Harrison had 106 yards on four carries and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard run in the third quarter, for Bethel. Quarterback Zach Esau was 3 of 6 for 122 yards and a touchdown, one a 75-yarder to Tanner Galliart in the second quarter.
“It was different than anything we faced all year,’ Singletary said of Bethel’s Flexbone attack. “It was a very complicated offense but playing as a team and everybody playing their assignments we came up with the ‘W.'”
“They’re an explosive offense,” Hendrickson said. “They make a lot of big plays. Our defense played great and put our offense in position to score as many points as we did.”
Hendrickson said he wasn’t surprised his team played well.
“Some people may say trap game but if you came out and watched us practice this week you wouldn’t be surprised by the outcome,” he said. “We were locked in and dialed in.
“We talk all the time ‘you get what you earn’ and I think we earned a home playoff game and we’re excited about that.”
The Coyotes notched the first two playoff victories in program history last year before losing to Benedictine in the semifinals – all three games on Bissell Field.
Hendrickson likes the way this year’s team’s playing heading into the postseason.
“This was the most complete game we’ve played,” he said. “This is one of the better teams we’ve played, score 60 points against a ranked team, take care of the football and get takeaways on defense – that’s our keys to win every week and that’s what we did.”
“I believe we’ll go far in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who we go against,” Prewitt said. “We’re going to find a way to win.”