Corey Schultz approached his teammate and looked for the right words. They didn't come.
Instead, the Ottawa wide receiver screamed. Loud and long, reaching out to diminutive receiver Clarence Anderson until he had the Wichita Southeast product in a gigantic, postgame bear hug.
The words came later.
"Clarence has worked so hard and so long for this," Schultz said. "He's just got more athleticism than anybody can handle."
Anderson was almost impossible to handle Saturday, racking up three touchdowns and 292 yards — 190 receiving, 102 on kickoff returns — as the No. 6 Braves improved to 10-0 and clinched the KCAC title with a 49-42 win over Friends. The victory also locked up a home game in the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
"It was a great homecoming, something I've dreamed about," said the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Anderson. "With so many family that don't usually get to see me play out here today, I wanted to make it special."
The Falcons, the three-time defending league champions, didn't give up their crown without a fight, rallying from a 42-0 deficit in the first half to the brink of victory.
After Friends quarterback Tim Rozzell found Mike Hyde on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 to play, the Falcons' onside kick failed to go the requisite 10 yards and the Braves were able to run out the clock.
"We fought like champions, and I'll take my hat off to Coach (Kent) Kessinger and Ottawa, because they just took their rightful spot as the best team in the KCAC for 2009," Friends coach Monty Lewis said. "They proved that today. I thought we might be able to snatch a win late, but we just made too many mistakes early."
Friends couldn't have started any worse, as Rozzell fumbled on the Falcons' first play from scrimmage and Ottawa linebacker Ross Diehl picked it up and scored from five yards for a 7-0 lead 10 seconds into the game.
Anderson turned short dump passes into big plays on Ottawa's next two possessions, scoring from 67 yards the first time he touched the ball and then again from 35 yards to give Ottawa a 21-0 lead with nine minutes to play in the first quarter.
Anderson's third touchdown of the first half — a 47-yard hook up with Ethan Haller — put Ottawa up 42-0 with 13 minutes left to play in the first half.
Friends scored two touchdowns late in the second quarter to make the score 42-14 at halftime.
"I know Coach Lewis well enough that I knew he was over there telling his guys they still had a shot," Kessinger said. "I didn't doubt (Friends) would be able to come back."
After Rozzell found Doug Pierce on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make the score 49-35 with just under nine minutes to play, Haller and the Braves put together a non-scoring drive that lasted 6:30, eating up enough clock so that Friends would ultimately run out of come-from-behind answers.
Haller finished with 423 passing yards and four touchdowns to go past the 4,000-yard mark for the season.
"I think it says something about our program that we went 8-2 this year and we're all kind of wincing, we all kind of feel like it's not up to standard," Lewis said. "But we groomed a lot of young players and I feel like we've got the potential to be awfully good ... next year."
Ottawa (10-0) 28 14 7 0 — 49 Friends (8-2) 0 14 7 21 — 42
O—Diehl 5 fumble return (Gross kick)
O—Anderson 63 pass from Haller (Wieder kick)
O—Anderson 35 pass from Haller (Wieder kick)
O—Rubio 18 int. return (Wieder kick)
O—C. Schultz 89 pass from Haller (Wieder kick)
O—Anderson 47 pass from Haller (Wieder kcik)
F—Benning 1 run (Johnson kick)
F—Pierce 15 pass from Rozzell (Johnson kick)
O—Haller 1 run (Wieder kick)
F—Rozzell 1 run (Johnson kick)
F—Trotter 10 run (Johnson kick)
F—Pierce 17 pass from Rozzell (Johnson kick)
F—Hyde 25 pass from Rozzell (Johnson kick)
Rushing—Ottawa, Otto 16-57, Baer 8-7, Wickley 1-(-2), Haller 6-(-29), Cebold 1-(-35). Friends, Miles 4-65, Trotter 8-36, Rozzell 11-21, Benning 5-15, Pierce 1-9, Greenbaum 3-1, Craddock 2-0, Johnson 1-(-6), Goerzen 1-(-7).
Passing—Ottawa, Haller 19-25-423-0. Friends, Rozzell 30-51-345-3, Johnson 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Ottawa, Anderson 8-190, Z. Schultz 6-67, C. Schultz 4-156, Otto 1-10. Friends, Hyde 13-173, Pierce 6-68, Trotter 3-35, Benning 2-30, O'Nelio 2-21, Hamilton 2-10, Miles 1-6, Bolander 1-2.