Levi Convirs, Sports Information Director
WICHITA – The Friends University closed the final 19:12 with a 35-point barrage in a 56-21 rout of the Sterling College Warriors to celebrate Homecoming today at Adair-Austin Stadium. The win also snaps a three-game losing skid in the series to the Warriors, with all three of the setbacks occurring on the road in Sterling, Kan.
The 56 points by the Falcons are the most they’ve scored since 2011 and the 35-point victory is their largest since 2015.
After falling behind 13-0 on a pair of Ethan Richardson touchdown passes, sophomore quarterback Joshua Morris came in and gave the Falcons a spark by directing a seven-play, 76 yard scoring drive that culminated with a 15 yard touchdown to Christian Zaricki with 12:18 left in the opening half.
A 23 yard run keeper by Morris and a 25 yard carry by Dawson Marcum preceded the scoring throw, setting the Falcons up at the Sterling 15 yard line.
Following a Warrior punt, Morris went to work again, hitting Cade Nagy for gains of 42 and 19 yards to advance to the Sterling one yard line.
From there, Jacoby Smith punched it in to give the Falcons their first lead of the game at the 5:20 mark of the second quarter.
The Falcons then made it three straight scoring possessions when Morris scored from one yard out for his first career touchdown to make it 21-13 heading into the locker room.
The Warriors managed to tie the score early in the third quarter thanks to a blocked punt, but the Falcons began their run of 35 unanswered points when starting quarterback Dan Dawdy re-entered the game and found Tyler English for a 15-yard score to give Friends a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter.
The Falcons defense continued to assert itself, forcing three and outs on the Warriors next two possessions and third straight overall that led to Dawdy finding Laken Clowdus for a 56-yard pass to extend the edge up to 35-21. Clowdus took the pass and made a nifty move to elude a would-be tackler and coasted the rest of the way for the score.
The three and outs by the Falcon defensive unit then gave way to turnovers on the next three possessions, as Christian Ryan, Jagger Blubaugh and Nick White each came away with an interception on three consecutive Warrior drives.
The Falcons’ offense capitalized each time with a touchdown to blow the game open, getting Dawdy’s second touchdown throw of the day to English along with rushing scores from Carlos Flores and freshman quarterback Traylen Shinault to put a cap on the offensive explosion.
“I am really proud of the way we finished the game today,” said Dion Meneley, Friends University head football coach. “I have known we are capable of being very explosive, but we have had trouble staying out of our way. We started slow, but the guys kept battling.”
Dawdy and Morris each put together effective performances at the quarterback spot for the Falcons. Dawdy was 10-of-18 for 162 yards and three touchdowns, while Morris had the best game of his career with eight completions in 13 attempts for one score to go along with his rushing touchdown. He also carried the ball 10 times for a career-high 79 yards.
The Falcons also got a career day on the ground from Marcum, as the sophomore running back from Durango, Colo. was effective carrying the ball throughout and finished with a career-best 154 yards while averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
English and Kevin Green each led the Falcons (2-3, 2-3 KCAC) with five receptions, with English hauling in a career-best 81 yards and Green tallying 50 receiving yards. Cade Nagy also had three receptions for 77 yards.
Richardson finished with 202 yards passing for the Warriors (0-3, 0-3 KCAC) and TC Smith had seven catches for 120 yards.
David Akao led the Falcons with nine tackles and had one sack, with Deven Lopez recording a game-high 19 stops for Sterling.
“Between the turnovers caused and the drives we finished with touchdowns, I felt both sides of the ball complimented each other well,” Meneley said. “I am very excited for our guys and it’s a great win on homecoming weekend.”
The Falcons are next scheduled to play at Bethel College next Saturday at 1 p.m. in North Newton, Kan.