LINDSBORG – Isaiah Randalle (JR/Sacramento, Calif.) wasn’t Kansas Wesleyan’s starting quarterback Saturday night. He was magnificent as the Coyotes’ closing signal caller, though.
Randalle replaced injured starter Tony Brown (JR/Austin, Texas) on the opening drive of the game and proceeded to play like Patrick Mahomes, throwing for 392 yards, five touchdowns and leading No. 6 KWU to a 59-34 Kansas Conference victory over archrival Bethany at Anderson Stadium.
The Coyotes improved to 2-0 and have scored 129 points in their first two games after routing Friends 70-17 a week earlier. Bethany’s 0-1 as its season opener against Saint Mary last week was postponed because of COVID-19 issues.
Randalle, playing in just his second game after transferring from Hartnell College (Calif.), was 21-of-29 passing with no interceptions and rushed six times for 49 yards. He completed six passes to Steve Williams for 136 yards – Williams’ ninth 100-yard game in just over a year at KWU – and three touchdowns, and six to Charlie Simmons (JR/Saint Johns, Fla.) for 127 yards and a TD.
“Wow, he can throw the ball,” Wesleyan coach Myers Hendrickson said of Randalle during his postgame radio show. “He was incredible, he was remarkable. Isaiah put the ball on the money, he’s playing really good football and throwing the ball with a lot of confidence. And our receivers are going up and getting it with a lot of confidence.”
Randalle also had ample time to throw.
“Offensive line did a beautiful job protecting him,” Hendrickson said. “(Bethany) mixed up their fronts, they bring a lot of pressure and are very versatile and move people around. I was very proud how the offensive line protected.”
Fullback Roy “The Fridge” Sanders bulldozed the opposing defense for the second week in row, scoring three touchdowns out of the Wildcat formation on short runs and also caught a touchdown pass.
The Coyotes had 666 total yards – 411 passing and 255 rushing. Quincy Sandoval (SO/Salt Lake City, Utah) was the leading rusher with 106 yards on 21 carries.
The offense scored on five of its six possessions in the first half, the first on a 35-yard pass from Randalle to Williams. Sanders accounted for the next three on power runs of 2, 5 and 1 yard.
Bethany stayed in the hunt, led by senior quarterback Austin Denson, and trailed 28-21 after his 76-yard touchdown pass to Darren Rittwage with 1:14 left in the half.
That was plenty of time for Randalle, who drove the Coyotes 62 yards on six plays – the final 7 on a pass to Williams, who made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone with 27.3 seconds remaining – that made it 35-21 at the break.
“That was huge,” Hendrickson said of the score before the break. “Touchdowns at the end of the half changes everything. Something that we take a lot of pride in is finishing strong and finishing the half strong. It was a broken play and just an incredible effort by Isaiah Randalle and an incredible job by Stevie Williams (SR/Long Beach, Calif.) to come up huge with that touchdown right before half.”
Bethany got within 38-27 on another Denson scoring pass, but the Coyotes answered two plays later when Randalle hit Williams with a 47-yard scoring pass that made it 45-27 with 6:59 left in the quarter.
Randalle put a finishing touch on his night with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Simmons with 6:31 left for a 52-27 lead.
Bethany had 275 total yards at halftime, but managed 265 the second half – 72 on a Denson pass to Aderias Ealy with 4:03 left in the game. Denson was 16 of 41 for 348 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on the night. He also had a 1-yard touchdown run.
Hendrickson was pleased with the defense’s play the second half.
“Defense played great second half football,” he said. “We didn’t know exactly what they were going to do, but they certainly spread the ball out and they’ve got a talented quarterback. The second half we shut him down and were able to do some good things defensively.”
Cleon Hamilton (JR/Hinesville, Ga.), Justin Sullivan (SR/Salina, Kan.), Scott Helsper (SR/Coeur D’Alene, Idaho) and Zyair Velazquez (SR/San Diego, Calif.) had seven tackles apiece.
Helsper also had one of KWU’s two interceptions on the night.
KWU was dogged by penalty flags the entire game – 17 for 163 yards.
“We’re going to get into the film right away and look at it and see what’s going on and we’ll get that corrected,” Hendrickson said. “We take a lot of pride in playing disciplined football.”
The Coyotes are idle the next two weeks. Their home game next Saturday against Ottawa was postponed because of COVID-19 issues and KWU is idle October 3. The next scheduled game is against Saint Mary on October 10, in Leavenworth.
“We told the team we don’t know what the future holds,” Hendrickson said. “Our focus was solely on Bethany tonight and through the course of the week. The one thing I do know is that we improved, and that’s what I told my team.
“I told them ‘I know there’s a lot of things going on, but all I know is we can improve and get better on the field and off the field.’ That’s what we’re going to do this week.”