Senior quarterback Kelly Cordova wanted his final Kansas Wesleyan-Bethany tilt to be special.
The gunslinger from Frisco, Texas scored a career-high six times, the defense shut out the Swedes in the second half and the Coyotes blew by Bethany for a 56-28 victory on Saturday. The 107-game series also received a name: the First Bank Kansas – Smoky Valley Hill Showdown.
Kansas Wesleyan and Bethany opened the contest with touchdowns. KWU started the game with a four-play, 70-yard drive, capped off by a Cordova 27-yard TD pass to junior receiver KJ Ocasio. Bethany’s response was much lengthier, a 10-play, 64-yard march, resulting in a one-yard TD run for Aaron Knox with 9:49 to play in the first.
Cordova turned to the ground attack on KWU’s second drive as he found the goal line for a three-yard score. Wesleyan’s special teams created forced the next touchdown as BC punter James Augusta felt the pressure and dropped the ball while attempting to kick. Senior safety Sam Pierce scooped and scored on a 13-yard return, putting the Coyotes ahead 21-7 with 4:56 to play in the opening quarter.
Bethany settled in on the next drive, waltzing 73 yards on 11 plays. Isaiah Salazarr culminated the attack at the 1:21 mark with a 20-yard strike to receiver Mike Wimberly. Eighteen seconds into quarter number two, Cordova hooked up with sophomore tight end Trenton Poe-Evans for a 10-yard TD. Shortly after, Wesleyan used five plays to find the end zone as former Bethany Swede Nate Ocran plunged into the end zone for a four-yard score.
The Swedes roared back, though, with 14 unanswered points. Salazarr keyed both scoring drives, tossing a dart to wide out Dalton Goodwin on a seven-yard play and then rushing on a nine-yard scamper to trim the margin to 35-28 with 3:55 remaining in the half. The Coyotes had the final say in the first half as Cordova hooked up with Poe-Evans on a 22-yard TD connection with 22 seconds.
After allowing 264 yards in the first half, the Coyote defense stiffened. The Coyotes held the Swedes, the KCAC’s top offense in yards, to just 88 yards in half number two. Salazarr had 18 completions to start the game, but only had four successful passes in the half. Meanwhile, Cordova put the game out of reach in the third quarter, rushing for a 27-yard score and completing a six-yard pass to Ocasio.
Cordova was 16-of-25 passing for 243 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He added 124 yards and two scores on 13 carries. Poe-Evans had four grabs for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Ocasio was close behind, reeling in four balls for 83 yards and two scores. BC’s Salazarr completed 22 of his 40 passes for 251 yards, two TD’s and a pick.
Kansas Wesleyan (6-3, 5-2) goes back to the Graves Family Sports Complex on Saturday for Senior Day. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 pm. Catch the game on FM 104.9.
Bethany (5-3, 4-3) stays at Anderson Field to take on the Friends Falcons on Saturday. Kickoff time is at 1:30 pm. Listen to the game on 95.5 The Rock.