Sep 18, 2023

Coyotes hold on to stun Friends 35-28

Posted Sep 18, 2023 1:50 PM

Story By Bob Davidson

Nick Allsman had a birthday party he will never forget. Neither will his Kansas Wesleyan teammates, coaches, and Coyote fans near and far.

Allsman led a suddenly revved up offense with 125 yards rushing and a touchdown and the defense recovered three fumbles and slowed Friends' heretofore juggernaut offense as KWU stunned the previously unbeaten Falcons 35-28 on Saturday night on Gene Bissell Field at JRI Stadium and the Graves Family Sports Complex.

Wesleyan (2-2) entered the game averaging just under 14 points and 203 yards but exploded for 353 yards along with the 35 points. Conversely, Friends (3-1) was averaging nearly 56 points and 503 yards but finished with 390 yards.

"We had a really solid week of practice," said Allsman, who turned 24 Saturday and carried the ball 17 times - an average of 7.4 yards per carry. "You're seeing the repetition experience starting to click for the inexperienced offensive line. You could've driven a Volkswagen bus through the holes that were on the field tonight."

Tyler Boston, who splits time with Allsman, added 96 yards rushing on 19 carries and scored a touchdown as the Coyotes had piled up 245 yards on the ground.

"We ran the ball well, that's what we're supposed to do, it's what the offense is designed to do," offensive coordinator James Bauer said. "It's a new offensive line. They're not young but they're inexperienced and they just need to get together."

Quarterback Richard Lara was efficient and managed the game. He was 9 of 13 passing for 108 yards and a touchdown - a 71-yard catch and run by Rhadarious Lomax-Spivey in the third quarter. Lara also ran six yards for the game's final touchdown.

"His touchdown run ended up being the difference in the game," Allsman said. "As the season goes on, I think you're going to see him make more and more plays."

The offensive output was certainly needed. Friends' flexbone triple option offense entered the game averaging an NAIA-best 494 yards rushing but totaled 322 Saturday. Quarterback K'Vonte Baker had 135 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown, but KWU was for the most part able to contain his stable of running backs.

Baker threw just three passes but two went for touchdowns during a frantic fourth quarter - a 29-yarder to Kevin Green and 39 yards to Claude Slaughter, III.

"When their quarterback gets out and gets moving, he's really good," KWU coach Matt Myers said. "They're just a really tough, gritty team; their offense is well manicured and a machine."Our defense sold out tonight and they didn't stop running to the football. It sounds simple but that's the only thing that matters - make sure you're giving absolute maximum effort a hundred percent of the time. We were looking for ways to contain them and give our offense a chance to win the game."

Linebacker Shaylan Lewis had another big game with a team-best 13 tackles while linebacker Ricco Moore had 11 and free safety Julian Urioste 10.

Allsman gave KWU a 7-0 lead in the first quarter running 23 yards for a touchdown on the team's first possession. It capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive.

Friends tied it at 7-7 on a Baker touchdown early in the second quarter. KWU responded with a 14-play drive that died at the Falcons' 5-yard line when Mark Benjamin fumbled with 4:25 left in the half.

The Coyotes opened the second half with two quick touchdowns for a 21-7 lead - Lara's pass to Lomax-Spivey and Luke Armstrong's 88-yard punt return. Armstrong took the kick, head to the far sideline, turned up the field and raced past the Friends' sideline to the end zone.

The Falcons answered on Baker's four-yard scoring run three plays after a kickoff return to the KWU 8.

Wesleyan made it 28-14 with 7:54 left in the third when Boston scored on a 27-yard run. It capped a quick three-play, 63-yard drive - Allsman's 43-yard run the big play.

Baker's touchdown pass to Green made it 28-21 with 13:09 left in the game. KWU was forced to punt but Baker lost the ball deep in Friends' territory, Sloan Simpson scooping up the loose ball and taking it to the Falcons' 6-yard line. Lara touchdown two plays later giving the Coyotes a seemingly safe 35-21 lead with 4:52 left.

Friends, though, promptly drove 68 yards for a touchdown, Baker's pass to Slaughter III for the score and it was 35-28 with 2:25 left.

Things got tense when the Falcons recovered the on-sides kick at the 50-yard line and drove to Wesleyan's 5-yard line. Moore ended the suspense by pouncing on the Falcons' fourth fumble of the night at the 21 with 1:07 left.

"(The victory) allows us to reset, play to our capabilities and get going the right direction," Allsman said. "It's a massive confidence builder."