KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas Wesleyan's high scoring offense has garnered much of the attention this season and with good reason. The Coyotes are averaging 43 points and 503 yards through their first six games.
Considerable credit has to go to the defense as well, though, which has been magnificent and has two shutouts to its credit.
The No. 10 Coyotes didn't get a shutout in their Kansas Conference game against No. 22 Avila on Saturday afternoon but the argument could be made it was the defense's best outing so far.
Turbo charged on coordinator Matt Myers' birthday in a marquee showdown KWU slammed the door on an Eagles offense that had run amok through five games.
The Coyotes notched 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks, intercepted a pass and limited Avila to 3 of 15 on third down that paved the way for a 30-20 victory on homecoming at The Zarda Multisport Complex.
Avila managed just 225 total yards, most of that in the fourth quarter after Wesleyan had crafted a 27-7 lead. The Eagles had just 44 net yards rushing.
"D-line played relentless," KWU coach Myers Hendrickson said on his postgame radio show. "Our staff did an incredible job with the front seven and had them ready to go. We held an All-American running back (Malik Nesbitt) to 51 yards.
"The quarterback (Peyton Burke), I think the way we got to him he was playing tired at the end of the game. You get to him enough it gets tough on him in the fourth quarter and I think we saw that."
The seven sacks resulted in 50 yards lost and kept Burke on the run from start to finish. He was 18 of 30 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and the interception, complements of Jordan Dupre (FR/Little Elm, Texas) that came in the second quarter and killed an Avila drive at the KWU 3-yard line.
Andrew Williams, Avila's top wide receiver, also had a difficult day with two receptions for 22 yards – both in the final two minutes.
"Great defensive game plan to take him out of the game because he's a heck of a talent," Hendrickson said.
Devante Gabriel led the thrust with seven tackles while Shaun Browder (JR/St. Louis, Mo.) had six and Julian Urioste (FR/Portales, N.M.) and Chris Scott (JR/Chicago, Ill.) five apiece – Scott also had registering 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss.
Offensively KWU tossed Avila into a deep hole early on. Isaiah Randalle (JR/Sacramento, Calif.), the KCAC's Offensive Player of the Week, hit Stevie Williams (SR/East Los Angeles, Calif.) with an 83-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the Coyotes' second possession.
Avila drove to the KWU 9-yard line on its next possession but the Coyotes held on fourth down at the 10. They scored four plays later on CJ Fluker (FR/Defiance, Ohio)'s 8-yard run – the score set up by Nick Allsman (SO/Belleville, Kan.)'s 32-yard jaunt on first down and a 51-yard pass to Eren Jenkins (FR/Chicago, Ill.) on the next play.
"We knew we had to show up and be ready to roll from the get-go and we were," Hendrickson said of the fast start. "I was proud to see that because we really, really wanted a fast start and that was going to give us our best chance."
Wesleyan made it 20-0 with 8:29 left in the half on Randalle's 4-yard touchdown pass to Jenkins, capping a quick four-play, 30-yard drive after a 22-yard Avila punt.
The Eagles briefly made it interesting pulling within 20-7 with 3:12 left in the third quarter on Burke's 13-yard run but Randalle hit Patton Germann (FR/Salt Lake City, Utah) with a 17-yard scoring pass for a 27-7 lead with 6:22 left in the game.
The Coyotes finished with 430 total yards – 301 passing, 129 rushing. Randalle was 23 of 33 for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Williams and Jenkins each surpassed 100 yards in receiving once again – Williams seven catches for 131 and Jenkins seven for 103. Allsman led the ground game with 94 yards on 18 carries.
Wesleyan (6-0) sits alone atop the KCAC standings after Bethel edged Southwestern 37-31 in double overtime Saturday in Winfield. Bethel and Southwestern are second at 5-1 and Avila third at 4-2. The Eagles travel to Bethel and Southwestern plays Tabor in Hillsboro next Saturday.
The Coyotes play McPherson in their homecoming game at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Graves Family Sports Complex. The Bulldogs (3-2) defeated Friends 24-17 Saturday in Wichita and gave Southwestern a battle earlier this month before losing 45-34 in McPherson.
"We're playing a very good Mac team and they'll want to do what we just did here to Avila – spoil their homecoming," Hendrickson said. "We have to protect (our lead), we have to respect the opportunity we're in by showing up and having a great week of practice."