WINFIELD, Kan. – The Southwestern College football team snapped a six-game losing streak dating back to the 2016 season, and won a home game for the first time in five tries with a convincing win Saturday evening. The Moundbuilders defeated the Bulldogs of McPherson College, 45-17, inside Richard L. Jantz Stadium.
Junior quarterback Christian Gordon put together one of the best passing games of his three-year career in Saturday's win. Gordon completed 22 of his 33 passing attempts for 254 yards and a touchdown. The Yukon, Okla., native also carried the ball three times and scored a touchdown. Junior transfer Austin Early captained the final two drives of the game, and went 4-for-4 for 17 yards.
Eleven different receivers caught passes in the game. Sophomore Josh Lewis had a breakout game with six receptions for a team-high 82 yards, including a fourth-down catch that set up a late scoring opportunity. Playing on Beta Rho Mu Field for the first time, junior Carvontez Gates pulled in a team-best seven receptions for 45 yards. Senior Donny Ebanks caught the only touchdown pass of the game, and finished with two receptions for 30 yards.
Freshman Keyshawn Wyatt led the Southwestern (1-3, 1-1 KCAC) ground game with 10 carries for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while senior Silas Jefferson added eight carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. Mike'l Anderson carried a team-best 11 times for 25 yards, and scored a touchdown as well.
Senior David Ashilonu led the Moundbuilders' defensive efforts with 11 tackles (4 solo, 7 assist) and a broken-up pass, while senior Ka'Darius McQueen added nine tackles (4 solo, 5 assist). Southwestern's defensive unit was able to effectively contain McPherson (1-2, 0-2 KCAC) quarterback Ed Crouch to 75 rushing yards on 13 carries. Crouch also completed 16 of his 30 pass attempts for 191 yards, but just one touchdown.
As a team, Southwestern amassed 429 offensive yards on 75 plays. Moundbuilder quarterbacks completed 26 of 37 passing attempts for 271 yards, while Southwestern's backs recorded 158 yards on 38 carries. The Moundbuilders forced three turnovers in the game.
McPherson made the first move in Saturday's contest. On their first possession of the game, the Bulldogs put together an eight-play, 83-yard drive, and scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead with 8:53 remaining in the first. Southwestern responded late in the quarter. Silas Jefferson capped a quick five-play, 80-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7-7 after one quarter of play.
The kicking game stole the show early in the second quarter. Mario Esparza drilled a 44-yard field goal to give Southwestern its first lead of the season, 10-7, with 13:09 remaining in the opening half. But just under five minutes later, McPherson scored on a 35-yard field goal to force a 10-10 tie at the 8:34 mark. The Moundbuilders regained the lead just three minutes later, when Christian Gordon connected with Donny Ebanks from 23 yards out. The touchdown capped a seven-play, 55-yard scoring drive, and gave Southwestern a 17-10 lead with 5:26 remaining until halftime. McPherson tried to answer on the second play of its next possession, but a long Bulldog pass was intercepted by Tomunci Whitfield, who returned the pick to the Bulldog 46 yard line. Six plays and 46 yards later, Keyshawn Wyatt scampered into the end zone from 12 yards out. Esparza drilled the point-after attempt, and allowed Southwestern to take a lead into the halftime locker room for the first time since Nov. 7, 2015. When the halftime whistle sounded, the Moundbuilders held a 24-10 lead.
Southwestern controlled the game through the second half. The Moundbuilders scored the only touchdown of the third quarter at the 3:31 mark, when Gordon scored on a three-yard keeper to put the exclamation point on a six-play, 63 –yard run. The touchdown gave Southwestern a 31-10 advantage to take into the fourth quarter.
The Moundbuilders kept rolling in the fourth quarter. Wyatt scored his second touchdown of the game early in the period, a one-yard run that pushed the Southwestern lead to 38-10 with 13:25 to play. Four minutes later, Mike'l Anderson scored his first touchdown of the night when he capped a six-play, 44-yard drive with a one-yard run, and extended the lead to 45-10 with 9:05 to play. McPherson scored the final touchdown of the game on an 11-yard run, but all that did was trim the Southwestern lead to 45-17, where it remained until the end of the game.
With Saturday's win, Southwestern improves to 1-3 on the season, and 1-1 in KCAC play. The Moundbuilders will return to action Saturday, hosting the Coyotes of Kansas Wesleyan University. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside Richard L. Jantz Stadium.