WINFIELD, Kan. – The Southwestern College football team came out on the short end of an offensive shoot-out in its home opener Saturday evening. The Moundbuilders fell to the Broncos of Hastings College, 52-35, in a game which was arranged as part of the KCAC-GPAC Challenge, on the turf of Richard L. Jantz Stadium in Winfield.
Both teams finished the game with better than 400 total offensive yards in Saturday's contest. Southwestern (0-1) relied heavily on its ground game, and amassed 288 yards on 45 carries, while recording 186 passing yards en route to 474 yards of offense, while Hastings (2-0) used a more balanced attack, with 229 rushing yards and 217 yards through the air on its way to 446 yards as a team.
Freshman Keyshawn Wyatt led Southwestern's ground game with 128 yards on 14 carries, while junior quarterback Christian Gordon finished with 68 rushing yards, nearly half of which came on a 32-yard touchdown run. Senior Silas Jeffferson and junior Mike'l Anderson ran for 50 and 36 yards, respectively, in their first games as Moundbuilders.
Gordon completed 15 of his 42 pass attempts for 186 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Junior Donny Ebanks was Gordon's primary target, and caught 10 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Senior David Ashilonu led the Moundbuilder defense with 12 tackles (7 solo, 5 assist), while fellow senior Marquis Hodge added eight tackles. Seniors Tomunci Whitfield and Dallas Allen, and junior AJ Banks each recorded six tackles.
Hastings scored a pair of touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the game, and took an early 14-0 lead. Gordon put Southwestern on the board when he capped a 12-play, 79-yard drive with an eight-yard pass to Jarad Mora. Mario Esparza's point-after attempt was blocked, but the Moundbuilders had trimmed the Bronco lead to 14-6, where it remained through the end of the first quarter.
The two teams traded 38-yard field goals through the opening minutes of the second half. Hastings drilled its 38 yard attempt just eight seconds into the second quarter, while Esparza sent his 38-yarder through the uprights with 5:20 to play until halftime, and cut the Hastings lead back to 17-9. The Broncos added the only touchdown of the quarter in the final 10 seconds of the period, a one-yard rush that capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive, and gave the Broncos a 24-9 halftime lead.
Southwestern scored the only points of the third quarter when Gordon found Jacob Sigmon for a 17-yard touchdown strike that put the icing on an 11-play, 82-yard drive, and pulled the Moundbuilders to within striking distance, 24-16, heading into the fourth quarter.
The two teams saved their best for last in the fourth quarter. Seven touchdowns were scored in the final 15 minutes of the contest. Hastings struck first with a two-yard run that pushed its lead to 31-16 at the 14:52 mark. The Moundbuilders responded with a 7-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by Gordon's 32-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 31-23. Hastings scored on its very first play from scrimmage, a 59-yard touchdown pass that gave the Broncos a 38-23 edge with 11:56 still to play. Hastings added another touchdown at the 4:36 mark of the quarter, and took control of the game with a 45-23 advantage. Gordon found Ebanks from 40 yards out to cap a quick four-play scoring drive, and cut the deficit to 45-29 with 3:36 to play, but the Broncos answered right away, with a 48-yard touchdown run that pushed their lead to 52-29. Southwestern put together one last scoring drive, a 13-play, 84-yard effort that cut the gap to 52-35, but the clock ran out on the Builders, and Hastings held on for the 52-35 victory.
Saturday's loss drops Southwestern to 0-1 on the season. The Moundbuilders will hit the road for the first time Saturday, traveling to Des Moines, Iowa, to face the Bulldogs of Drake University. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside historic Drake Stadium.