The Wichita Wild managed to keep the Kansas Koyotes at a safe distance Saturday night, but it was a battle all the way.
The Wild improved to 3-0 after a 39-20 triumph at Hartman Arena in the home opener.
The game got off to a shaky start when the Wild lost linemen Callahan Bright and Blake Gordon to patella injuries in the first quarter.
The injury to Bright, the Wild’s starting nose guard, was especially damaging as it occurred when he was utilized as a running back on offense. He fumbled the ball into the end zone, and the Koyotes recovered, starting a drive to their opening touchdown.
“I don’t think we played as well as we could have played,” coach Morris Lolar said. “It was a weird start, losing our starting offensive nose guard and one of our team leaders on the third play of the game – playing offense, at that. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth right now.
“But you know what? We won, and that’s the bottom line.”
After absorbing a punch from the Koyotes (0-2) in the opening period, the Wild seemed to bounce back in the second quarter, scoring three touchdowns and taking a 26-20 halftime lead.
Quarterback Rocky Hinds found jack-of-all-trades Joe Kassanavoid for two of the touchdowns, and connected with Rashad Daniels on a 32-yard touchdown pass.
“Our coaches just made the adjustments,” Hinds said. “This is our third game, so teams have multiple games to watch on us. We’ll be able to watch more film now, but we just had to make adjustments on the fly.”
Adjustments were a key, Kassanavoid said.
“Our offense just had to slow down,” he said. “As soon as we started slowing down, our quarterback had time to throw the ball, the offensive linemen gave him time, and I just ran routes like everybody else and we found the end zone a couple of times.”
Lolar said he wasn’t thrilled by either the offense or defense, but he had to be pleased with the defensive line work by Matt Moss and James McCartney.
McCartney seemed to draw a bead on Koyotes quarterback Chris Mayabb, sacking him four times, three of which came at critical junctures and the final one on the game’s last play. McCartney credited Moss and Darius Parish for setting him up for the sacks.
“If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have even happened,” he said. “Our DBs helped, too, keeping them covered and allowing me to get there.’’
The loss of two teammates might have stoked the fires for McCartney, he said.
“When two guys go down, especially guys like those, you just want to get out there and seek that revenge and make those plays for those guys,” McCartney said. “You’ve just got to play your hardest all the time.”
K – Mayabb 2 run (McCoy kick)
W – D. Kontz 20 pass from Hinds (kick failed)
K – Miller recovered blocked field-goal try in end zone (kick failed)
W – Daniels 32 pass from Hinds (Fambrough kick)
W – Kassanavoid 10 pass from Hinds (kick failed)
W – Kassanavoid 6 pass from Hinds (Fambrough kick)
K – Craig 12 pass from Mayabb (McCoy kick)
W – Fambrough FG 32
W – Fambrough FG 45
W – Hubbard 6 run (Fambrough kick)
Rushing — Kansas, Walker 11-38, Babb 1-1, Mayabb 9-(-17). Wichita, Hubbard 7-50, Hinds 1-4, Kassanavoid 2-1, Bright 1-0.
Passing — Kansas, Mayabb 14-20-1-110. Wichita, Hinds 12-22-0-129.
Receiving — Kansas, Davis 6-41, Williams 5-37, Snipes 2-20, Craig 1-12. Wichita, Daniels 3-61, Kassanavoid 7-46, Simons 1-11, Love 2-10.