Johnny Feauto, Demarco Prewitt, Richard McCauley and the rest of Kansas Wesleyan’s offense was typically sensational.
It was the play of the No. 4-ranked Coyotes’ defense that stole the show, though, in their 51-0 rout of arch rival Bethany in the First Bank Kansas Smoky Hill Showdown on Saturday afternoon at Graves Family Sports Complex.
KWU improved to 4-0 overall, 3-0 in the Kansas Conference, while Bethany fell to 1-2 overall and KCAC.
The Coyotes’ defense stifled the Swedes at every juncture from start to finish, limiting them to 93 yards total offense that included an incredible minus-3 yards rushing. Bethany had eight first downs for the game – one the first half to go along with 17 total yards.
They preserved the shutout in the fourth quarter when Tevin Jones blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt by Swedes’ kicker Wyatt Townsend. It was the Coyotes’ first shutout victory over Bethany since October 6, 1962 (14-0).
“Today marked the first of many to come,” said senior defensive end Anthony Munro, who had a team-best six tackles, three for loss including a sack. “We’re going to be doing this a whole lot more. We finally hit on all cylinders and it’s good we got it out now. We’ve got a great opponent next week (Ottawa).”
“I was so proud of that group,” KWU coach Myers Hendrickson said. “We played lights out football, one of the best defensive performances I’ve ever seen. They deserved the shutout and they got the shutout.”
Bethany quarterback Austin Denson was 13 of 24 passing for 96 yards, one interception, was sacked four times and pressure most of the game. His 45-yard pass to Rodney Molette in the third quarter accounted for nearly half of the Swedes’ total offense.
“Our coaches had us prepared going in,” Munro said. “Watching film and our scout team does a great job of keeping us ready for the game.
“We kept them one-dimensional. We knew if we stopped the run and made them pass our DBs (defensive backs) would lock it up.”
Munro said he and other defensive linemen aren’t necessarily focused on sacks.
“We’re unselfish,” he said. “As long as we’re swarming and get them running around we know someone’s going to make the play. You saw the linebackers flying in trying to get their own sacks, too. We just like to go hunting.”
“It starts up front with our defensive line stopping the run,” Hendrickson said. “That made them one-dimensional. I thought the linebackers played really well helping the run defense and getting to the quarterback and making him make decisions to get the ball out. And the secondary played incredible.”
The Wesleyan offense shifted into fifth gear in the second quarter, led by Prewitt, who had 93 yards rushing on 14 carries. He had 264 yards rushing and six touchdowns against Bethany last fall in Lindsborg and finished with 110 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns Saturday.
Leading 10-0 after one quarter, Prewitt scored from the 13-yard line, hurdling a Bethany defender at the five, with 13:30 left before halftime. He added a nine-yard scoring jaunt on the Coyotes’ next possession and finished with a two-yard stroll into the end zone with 37 seconds left in the half, giving KWU a 37-0 halftime lead.
“Prewitt at his worst is very, very good,” Feauto said. “He stepped up and played like he has all year and last year. He’s a warrior.”
“It was like he caught his second wind there in the second quarter and started carrying the football very effectively,” Hendrickson said.
KWU scored on its first two possessions of the second half – a 38-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Carmack with 12:57 left in the third quarter and an 11-yard screen pass to Brandon Lowe with 6:19 left, capping a 98-yard, 13-play drive.
“I thought the way we controlled the clock right there and the way we finished with a touchdown was really like microcosm of the game,” Hendrickson said. “We already had a dominant lead and I think that drive solidified us as an offense.”
Feauto tipped his hat to the defense as well.
“We really get going because of them,” he said. “They’re so energetic and have so much fun and that really gets us going. (Bethany) got one first down the first half and that is incredible.”
McCauley had a monstrous game from his wide out perch, catching seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown – a 16 yarder from Feauto late in the first quarter that made it 10-0.
McCauley’s effort was pivotal with leading receiver Stevie Williams out because of an ankle injury.
Wesleyan had 541 total yards – 265 rushing, 276 passing – and didn’t have a turnover.
Backup placekicker Juan Herrera converted six of seven extra points after Jhonatan Morales suffered a leg injury on a kickoff in the first quarter. The injury came moments after he’d kicked a 33-yard field goal that gave KWU a 3-0 lead.
“Just a great team win,” Hendrickson said.
The Coyotes play No. 21 Ottawa (1-1) in Ottawa next Saturday, starting at 6 p.m., in the Braves’ home opener. They lost to Sterling 37-29 Saturday night in Sterling.
*Photos by Tanner Colvin*