Kansas Wesleyan’s three-year Kansas Conference winning streak was going to end at some point, but it was going to take a good team playing well from start to finish to accomplish the feat.
Southwestern was that team Saturday.
Brad Cagle accounted for four touchdowns, Keyshawn Wyatt ran for well over 100 yards and the defense slowed KWU’s offense just enough to propel the Moundbuilders to a 42-21 upset of the No. 6 Coyotes on Senior Day at Graves Family Sports Complex.
The loss was Wesleyan’s first in 26 games against KCAC opponents dating back to October 22, 2017. It also ended a string of 28 consecutive regular-season victories.
The Coyotes fell to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the KCAC while Southwestern improved to 3-0 overall and in the conference.
“They’re really good,” said KWU coach Myers Hendrickson of the Moundbuilders. “They have seniors at all the critical spots and they seemed to have an answer for what we did.
“We knew we were going to have to play a near-flawless game and we didn’t get it done today, but I’m proud of way we fought all the way to the end.”
Cagle, a senior transfer from Briar Cliff this season, threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns, and had 77 yards rushing and a score. Wyatt, a senior running back, had 150 yards rushing on 26 carries and a touchdown, and Keyshawn Jones caught seven passes for 104 yards and a TD.
The Moundbuilders had 504 total yards, were 7 of 14 on third down conversions, 3 of 4 on fourth down and 5 for 5 on red zone conversions.
Defensively they were good when they had to be, stopping the Coyotes on downs four times in the red zone. KWU was 2 of 10 on third down conversions and 1 of 6 on fourth down.
KWU had considerable success moving the ball, though, finishing with 512 total yards. Quarterback Isaiah Randalle had another gargantuan game, throwing for 372 yards and a touchdown, wide out Stevie Williams caught nine passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, and Drevon Macon had five catches for 90 yards.
Going into the stiff south wind in the first quarter the Coyotes stalled on downs after driving to the Southwestern 27- and 15-yard lines.
“We had the wind in our face and we ended up being in some difficult positions on fourth down that we didn’t capitalize on,” Hendrickson said.
A key juncture came just before halftime. Trailing 14-7 and facing a fourth-and-2 situation at the Moundbuilders’ 6-yard line Hendrickson employed fullback Roy “Fridge” Sanders in the Wildcat formation.
Sanders took the snap and moved forward a couple of steps. Instead of barreling into the line, as he usually does, he stopped and threw a jump pass over the mass of bodies that fell short of tight end Rico Nix in the end zone with 36 seconds left.
Southwestern took control in the second half, scoring on its first four possessions.
The Coyotes trailed 28-7 after the Moundbuilders’ second touchdown of the third quarter, but quickly got back in it. Tailback Quincy Sandoval took a handoff on the first play of the possession and weaved his way through a myriad of defenders en route to a 57-yard touchdown run that made it 28-14 with 6:22 left in the quarter. Sandoval finished with a team-best 88 yards rushing on 15 carries.
The Moundbuilders responded with 75-yard drive that culminated with a 54-yard Cagle-to-Jones touchdown pass – Jones tip-toeing along the Southwestern sideline before sprinting into the end zone.
KWU got within 14 once more when Randalle hit Williams with a 17-yard scoring pass on the final play of the third quarter – Williams leaping over a defensive back and grabbing the ball in the end zone, making it 35-21. It was similar to the spectacular play he made a week earlier against William Penn that went viral and was shown on several television networks.
Southwestern scored its final touchdown with 10:31 left in the game.
Randalle did all he could to keep the Coyotes within striking distancing, going 15 of 21 for 208 yards in the second half.
“I thought Isaiah managed it extremely well, passing for that many yards in this type of wind,” Hendrickson said. “That’s a first-year starter and he’s playing like an experienced player.”
Wesleyan was without standout receiver Charlie Simmons for much of the game after he suffered a leg injury on a 41-yard reception early in the second quarter.
“Especially in a game like this where you have to keep scoring,” Hendrickson said of Simmons absence. “We definitely missed having him out there.”
Linebacker Zyair Velazquez had another tremendous game for the Wesleyan defense, finishing with 14 tackles, nine solo, two for loss and a fumble recovery. Scott Helsper and Justin Sullivan had nine tackles apiece.
“I told the team now it’s all about how you handle the adversity,” Hendrickson said. “Now we’ve got to come back and get to work on things that didn’t go our way.”
The Coyotes will face another tall task next Saturday, when Avila comes to Bissell Field for a 1 p.m. homecoming game. The Eagles (2-1 overall and KCAC) were idle Saturday, and boast a potent passing attack led by quarterback John Jacobs III.
“Really good Avila team coming in,” Hendrickson said. “We knew this was going to be a tough stretch, we knew this was a huge game, it didn’t surprise us. We talked about (Southwestern) being the best opponent that we’ve seen and now we’ve got another good one we’ve got to get ready for. The memory will be short and we’ll start working on Avila as a coaching staff tonight.”
*PHOTOS BY TANNER COLVIN*