Nick Allsman ended his career as a Kansas Wesleyan Coyote the best way possible.
Playing his final college football game on Senior Day, Allsman rushed for 109 yards on 19 carries that helped KWU overcome six turnovers and defeat Sterling 24-13 Saturday afternoon at JRI Stadium and the Graves Family Sports Complex.
"I've been here four years, I owe a lot to the program," said Allsman, who transferred to KWU from William Jewell four years ago. "The part that keeps coming back is the guys, the teammates, the memories, the bonds that you make. I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for coach (Matt) Myers, Kansas Wesleyan and the football program."
"We love Nick here, he's a great kid," Myers said. "Excited for his future and what he's going to do next. I'm glad he got the job done; it was good to see."
The Coyotes (8-3) claimed a share of the Kansas Conference's Bissell Division with Ottawa with 4-1 records but the Braves, who lost to Tabor 31-28 Saturday, will advance to NAIA postseason play virtue of defeating KWU a week earlier.
A rout appeared in the offing early on as the Coyotes scored on their first three possessions, the first two on passes from Byron McNair to Jacob Backus and Zarek Fewell's long run that gave them a quick 21-0 lead.
Sterling (2-9, 1-4 Bissell) changed its defensive approach and slowed the Coyotes' attack. They did not score again until Talon Cope made a game-clinching 39-yard field goal with 1:43 left in the game.
Turnovers were the issue – three interceptions and three fumbles, four turnovers in the second quarter.
"I don't know how many teams win football games when they turn the ball over six times," Allsman said with a laugh. "This is the first one I've been part of it."
The Warriors took advantage of two of the turnovers by scoring both of their touchdowns in the second quarter. The second came with 51 seconds left in the half on a 49-yard pass on fourth down, Rocklin Baptista to Myreik Goodwin-Lagree, but KWU blocked the extra point and led 21-13 at the break.
Wesleyan's defense, as it has done so often this season, stepped up the second half and stuffed Sterling's offense. The Warriors managed just 69 total yards the final 30 minute – 29 yards rushing, 40 passing – and the Coyotes intercepted two passes.
Myers was pleased that his team was able to overcome the mistakes.
"Every once and while you need to battle something to see if you're tough enough and gritty enough and have what it takes to stay in games and win games," he said. "I'm happy and proud of those guys, the seniors. Those guys represent our program well and I'm excited for the future."
KWU led 14-0 just 4:29 into the game needing just five players to score twice, McNair hitting Backus with scoring passes of 25 and 45 yards. Zarek Fewell's 42-yard touchdown run capped a four-play drive and made it 21-0 with 8:17 left in the quarter.
Sterling was able to stem the tide, though.
"They started packing the box a little bit and weren't pressing our outsides so our receivers weren't one-on-one anymore," Allsman said. "They got right in their face and took away the deep balls.
"I wouldn't say that we got complacent, we just weren't executing like we started the game."
The Coyotes finished with 377 total yards – 199 passing, 178 rushing. McNair was 14 of 20 with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Fewell had 70 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Sterling had 217 total yards – 169 passing and 48 rushing. Linebacker Ricco Moore had 11 tackles for KWU in his final game and the Coyotes sacked Baptista five times. He was 10 of 24 passing, one touchdown and three interceptions.
"The defense played absolutely out of their minds," Allsman said. "They were doing their thing."