It was patience that led Friends to a 21-0 victory over visiting Sterling College on Saturday.
The offense was struggling and the defense was having a difficult time containing Sterling’s elusive quarterback, Denton Hudspeth, but the Falcons kept calm.
“I credit our defense for allowing us to do that and I credit our coaches and our patience with the running game,” Friends coach Monty Lewis said. “We knew (Thomas) Hankerson would sooner or later break one and he did and it was a big play.”
Hankerson’s 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter sealed the victory in a game that saw each team throw for a combined 54 yards.
Sterling quarterback Denton Hudspeth was trouble all game for the Falcon’s defense. Hudspeth finished with 189 yards on 38 carries, but was never allowed to score.
“We’ve been close all year to that shutout,” Friends defensive end Dexter Davis said. “But this game we really wanted to shut down the run. We didn’t do our best job at it but we tried to pursue perfection.”
The shutout was even more special for Davis, a native of Rex, Ga., because his family was in attendance for the first time Saturday, which was also senior day.
“I just wanted to show them how much better I’ve gotten over the years. I was a little nervous but I got over it,” Davis said. “I just feel happy.”
Davis recorded three tackles-for-loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles against Sterling. Davis leads the nation with 13 sacks.
The win was important for Friends (6-3 overall, 5-2 KCAC) because it keeps them alive for the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title. The Falcons have two games remaining — at No. 24 Ottawa and at No. 22 Tabor. Both teams that have only one conference loss.
“This was an absolute must -win,” Lewis said.
Following the Falcons’ upset loss against Southwestern College on Oct. 13, Lewis told his team that it was now a four-quarter season. The first quarter was a 43-7 win over Bethany last week.
“If we drop this game they’re not going to buy into the third and fourth quarters,” Lewis said. “They’re not. I know young men, I know myself. But we took care of the second quarter and now we are on to the third quarter. And if we are meant to be champions we will have soundly earned it.”
The loss dropped Sterling to 1-7 overall and 1-6 in the KCAC.
F—Bauer 1 pass from Bristow (Pohlman kick)
F—Hankerson 1 run (Pohlman kick)
F—Hankerson 60 run (Pohlman kick)
Rushing—Sterling, Hudspeth 38-189, Edwards 13-38, Musser 2-7, Water 1-3; Friends, Hankerson 20-169, Taylor 7-28, Racette 6-25, Johnson 1-5
Passing—Sterling, Hudspeth 3-13-22-0; Friends, Bristow 7-14-28-1, Racette 1-3-4-0
Receiving—Sterling, Coleman 3-22; Friends, Bauer 3-14, Allen 2-11, Butts 1-9, Racette 2-(-2)