A golden opportunity late in Saturday’s game prevented the Southwestern College football team from an upset as No. 22-ranked Ottawa escaped with a 35-34 triumph in KCAC action at Richard L. Jantz Stadium.
The Moundbuilders (0-2, 0-1 KCAC) couldn’t hold onto a 28-13 halftime lead and gave up 499 yards of total offense — 428 through the air — in the game.
With just more than two minutes remaining and the Braves (1-0, 1-0) looking to run down the clock, backup quarterback Colton Davis lost a fumble on the Southwestern 37 and sophomore linebacker Cooper Meadows recovered, giving the Builders one final chance to win with 3:10 remaining in the game.
On a second-and-10, however, quarterback William Mueller’s sideline pass was wrestled away from senior receiver Brooks Shannon by Ottawa defensive back Devin Johnston, allowing the Braves to run out the clock and escape with the victory.
The teams traded short touchdown runs early in the game. Starting quarterback Connor Kaegi scored on a 3-yard keeper, but the kick failed and Southwestern answered when former Arkansas City High School standout Tanner Spencer scored on a 2-yard run.
Kaegi connected with Dylan Foos for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in the first quarter, but the rest of the half belonged to the Builders — specifically, Mueller and senior receiver Brooks Shannon, who hooked up for three touchdown passes. The first, Shannon’s first career reception, went for 81 yards, and the final connection was a 33-yarder with 52 seconds left in the half.
Shannon finished with 119 yards on the three catches. Mueller completed 7 of 23 passes for 190 yards.
The Braves stormed back with a 22-point third quarter, primarily on the back of Davis, who was spread around the field.
Davis had just seven yards on five carries, but that included a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second half. He was 3-of-4 passing for 20 yards, but threw a 6-yard TD pass to Karim Powell on Ottawa’s next possession to knot the score 28-28.
The Builders stalled on their next two drives deep in Ottawa territory, but had to settle for a pair of Freddy Botello field goals, from 42 and 37 yards, respectively.
The first field goal was set up when freshman defensive back Qaeshon Clark stripped Ottawa receiver Santino Gee and recovered the fumble.
Trailing 34-28, the Braves took the lead for good when Kaegi found Foos on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 remaining in the third quarter. Corbin Boles booted home the extra point to spell the difference in the game.
All-Conference running back Keyshawn Wyatt sustained a leg injury in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. He finished with 135 yards on 20 carries.
Junior Grant Torgerson led the defense with 10 tackles, while junior Darren Hicks recoded three quarterback sacks.
The Builders hit the road for a 7 p.m. kickoff next Saturday against Tabor in Hillsboro. The Bluejays (1-1) fell 37-12 on Saturday at No. 4-ranked Kansas Wesleyan.
CourierTraveler sports editor Joey Sprinkle contributed to this report.
Ottawa 35, Southwestern 34
OU — Connor Kaegi 3 run (kick failed), 12:37.
SC — Tanner Spencer 2 run (Freddy Botello kick), 5:57.
OU — Dylan Foos 23 pass from Kaegi (Corbin Boles kick), 0:16.
SC — Brooks Shannon 81 pass from William Mueller (Botello kick), 12:14.
SC — Shannon 5 pass from Mueller (Botello kick), 8:16.
SC — Shannon 33 pass from Mueller (Botello kick), 0:52.
OU — Colton Davis 1 run (Boles kick), 11:12.
OU — Karim Powell 6 pass from Davis (Dalyn Johnson kick), 6:40.
SC — FG, Botello, 42, 4:50.
SC — FG, Botello, 37, 2:32.
OU — Foos 34 pass from Kaegi (Boles kick), 1:11.
3rd Down Conv6-167-17
4th Down Conv1-30-2
Punts No-Avg Yards6-38.55-40.4
Time of Poss30:3528:20
RUSHING — Ottawa, Connor Kaegi 12-33, Dalyn Johnson 15-22, Santino Gee 6-13, Colton Davis 5-7, team 2-(minus 4). Southwestern, Keyshawn Wyatt 21-125, Jessie Thomas 10-50, Prince Hanks 3-8, Tanner Spencer 3-6, Jaquils Coleman 3-6, William Mueller 7-(minus 11).
PASSING — Ottawa, Connor Kaegi 29-43-0 408, Colton Davis 3-4-0 20. Southwestern, William Mueller 7-23-1 190.
RECEIVING — Ottawa, Dylan Foos 11-133, Dalyn Johnson 5-77, Michael Amayo Jr. 4-74, Colton Davis 5-66, Karin Powell 5-66, Jordan Hopson 1-7, Santino Gee 1-5. Southwestern, Brooks Shannon 3-119, Tanner Spencer 2-39, Edrick Gonzales 1-30, Jessie Thomas 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None.