STERLING, Kan. – The Southwestern College football team opened its Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference slate with a 14-point loss to a nationally-ranked opponent Saturday evening. The Moundbuilders fell to the Warriors of Sterling College, 28-14, in a weather-delayed affair on the natural grass surface of Smisor Stadium in Sterling.
Junior quarterback Christian Gordon completed 14 of his 35 pass attempts for 183 yards and a touchdown, but also threw a pair of interceptions and was sacked twice. Junior Donny Ebanks caught three passes for 64 yards, while senior Jacob Sigmon made four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman Grant Torgerson led the Moundbuilder defense with 12 tackles (8 solo, 4 assist), while senior Marquis Hodge added nine tackles. Senior Tomunci Whitfield had Southwestern's only interception of the game, and added three solo tackles.
Saturday's game was even in most of the major statistical categories. Southwestern executed 75 plays for 290 yards, while Sterling (2-1, 1-0 KCAC) ran 74 plays for 286 yards. The Moundbuilders finished with 190 yards, while the Warriors tallied 123 yards through the air. Sterling amassed 163 rushing yards, while Southwestern finished with exactly 100 yards on the ground. The Builders were 8-for-19 on third down, while Sterling was 10-for-20. Neither team converted a fourth down.
Sterling broke the ice with a touchdown midway through the first quarter. Darryl Terrell capped a 14-plaly, 63-yard drive with a five-yard run that gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead at the 8:35 mark of the opening frame. The 7-0 lead held through the end of the first quarter.
Southwestern scored its first touchdown of the game in the opening stages of the second quarter. Gordon connected with Sigmon from 21 yards out to put the finishing touches on a 9-play, 80-yard drive. Mario Esparza connected on the point-after attempt, and tied the game at 7-7 with 11:33 remaining until halftime. But Sterling got the final word in the opening half. The Warriors put together a 6-play, 53-yard drive, and scored with just 0:20 remaining on a one-yard drive that gave the hosts a 14-7 halftime advantage.
Sterling extended its lead to 21-7 when it opened the second half on another one-yard run that ended a 10-play, 52-yard drive. Mother Nature took over from there. Lightning was detected in the area, and the stadium was cleared while a weather delay ensued with 7:37 to play in the third quarter. Play resumed nearly an hour later, and neither team was able to score in the final seven minutes of the quarter, when Sterling held a 21-7 advantage.
Southwestern pulled back into the game near the midway point of the fourth quarter. Silas Jefferson capped an 11-play, 58-yard scoring drive with a four-yard run. Esparza converted the PAT, and the Moundbuilders faced only a 21-14 deficit with 7:19 remaining in the game. But the Warriors threw the dagger on Southwestern's next possession. Sterling's Ray Winfield intercepted Gordon, and returned it 20 yards for an insurance touchdown that gave the Warriors the 28-14 lead they went on to win by.
Saturday's loss drops Southwestern to 0-3 on the season, and 0-1 in KCAC play. The Moundbuilders will return to action Saturday, hosting the Bulldogs of McPherson College. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside Richard L. Jantz Stadium.