WINFIELD, Kan. – The Southwestern College football team fell victim to a red-hot, nationally-ranked opponent hoping to make a case for a postseason bid Saturday afternoon. The Moundbuilders fell to the No. 15-ranked Warriors of Sterling College, 77-22, inside Richard L. Jantz Stadium.
Sterling scored three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the game, and took complete control of the game in the process. The Warriors went on to add three more touchdowns before the end of the first quarter, and never looked back. Southwestern amassed 423 offensive yards for its second-highest total of the season, but the Moundbuilders were out-done by Sterling's 625-yard offensive outbreak in the lopsided loss.
How It Happened…
-Sterling returned the opening kick-off 90 yards for its first touchdown of the game. The Warriors forced Southwestern to punt after four plays on its first possession, then reeled off a quick five-play, 50-yard scoring drive to take a 14-0 lead with 12:24 still to play in the opening period. Mario Esparza put the Moundbuilders on the board with a 27-yard Field Goal at the 10:59 mark to cut the gap to 14-3, but Sterling scored on back-to-back drives to take a 28-3 lead with 8:12 still to play in the first quarter. Esparza added a 33-yard Field Goal that capped a 13-play, 55-yard drive to bring Southwestern to within 28-6 at the 3:59 mark, but again, the Warriors answered with a pair of touchdowns to close out the quarter. By the time the period finally came to an end, Sterling held a 42-6 lead.
-Esparza nailed his third field goal of the game with just under five minutes remaining in the first half. The 45-yard boot cut the deficit to 42-9. Not to be out-done, the Warriors added another touchdown after an eight-play, 62-yard drive to take a 49-9 advantage with 1:39 remaining until halftime, but Southwestern got the last laugh in the half. Christian Gordon capped a quick eight-play, 89-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Moundbuilders faced a 49-15 halftime deficit.
-Sterling scored three more touchdowns in the third quarter, all three of which came on big plays. The final score of the period, a 31-yard touchdown run, gave the Warriors a 70-15 lead with one period remaining.
-The Warriors pushed their lead to 77-15 on its first drive of the fourth quarter, but Southwestern ended its season on a high note. A five-yard touchdown pass from Braden Langston to Darius Williams capped a nine-play, 87-yard drive, and gave Sterling its 77-22 final margin.
Inside the Box Score…
-Sophomore Christian Gordon was Southwestern's offensive leader in the game. The Yukon, Okla., native completed eight of his 29 passing attempts for 137 yards, and carried the ball 17 times for a team-high 73 yards.
-Playing in the final game of his career, senior Braden Langston returned from an injury, and completed nine of his 18 passing attempts for 117 yards and a touchdown.
-Donny Ebanks was Southwestern's primary receiving target in the contest. The sophomore from Dallas caught six passes for 111 yards, and was the only Moundbuilder receiver to surpass the 100-yard mark. Tanner Spencer added 82 yards on five receptions.
-Marquis Hodge anchored Southwestern's defensive efforts with a team-high nine tackles (3 solo, 6 assist). Tomunci Whitfield added eight tackles (5 solo, 3 assist), while David Ashilonu finished with seven tackles (2 solo, 5 assist).
Next Up for the Moundbuilders…
Saturday's game marked the final game of the 2016 season for the Moundbuilders. Southwestern finishes the 2016 season with a 1-10 overall record, and a 1-9 mark against Kansas Collegiate Athletic Competition. The Builders will bid farewell to seven seniors, and will now wait to learn their season-opening assignment for the 2017 KCAC-GPAC Challenge.