Fans stick behind Pioneers in home debut - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Fans stick behind Pioneers in home debut

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Provided by Wayland Baptist University

They came, they stayed, they cheered.

Some 4,000 football-hungry fans witnessed the first Wayland Baptist University football game in 72 years Saturday afternoon at Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium. What they witnessed wasn't exactly what the Pioneers wanted to present them, but, at least to some degree, it didn't seem to matter to the Wayland fans that Adams State (Colo.) cruised to a 55-7 victory.

All that seemed to matter on this picture-perfect day was that collegiate football had returned to Plainview.

"The crowd was wonderful; the Wayland family is wonderful," Wayland head coach Butch Henderson said. "They stayed hollering throughout the game."

When Wayland, trailing 52-0, scored its first official points in more than seven decades on a one-yard touchdown pass from Luis Gonzalez to Seth Eaton with nine minutes and 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Pioneer fans that almost filled the home stands erupted in one accord.

"The kids could feel that," Henderson said.

Unlike last week's exhibition game in San Antonio against Monterrey Tech of Mexico when Wayland scored first and hung around in the first half, the Pioneers found themselves fighting from behind the entire time against NCAA Division II Adams State (2-0).

"They're a good football team," Henderson said. "You can't give a sound team like that the opportunities we did."

Wayland's defense didn't allow the Rams to score on their first possession, but they did on their next three. Adams State also returned a Wayland fumble for a score as the Pioneers found themselves trailing 29-0 with 1:31 still left in the first quarter.

"This was our first travel game and you never know how it's going to go, but we got off to a good start," Adams State coach Marty Heaton said.

By the time the first half ended, the Rams – having scored the last of their six TDs with just 14 seconds left before intermission – were ahead 46-0.

"We were fighting from behind almost from the start, and we can't afford to do that," Henderson said.

The Rams didn't score a touchdown in the second half, although senior kicker David Van Voris booted three of his four field goals, including a 47-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 52-0.

The Pioneer offense, after being held to one first down in the first half, began making some inroads after intermission. The team's most impressive drive kicked off the fourth quarter and featured a 32-yard pass from Gonzalez to Trent Schuett. After a pass interference penalty on Adams State on fourth down gave the Pioneers a first down at the 19, Gonzalez hooked up with Saul Elizalde for a 13-yard completion to the 1, and two plays later Eaton, a redshirt freshman from Lubbock Christian High School, caught a quick inside slant pass to score Wayland's touchdown. Reid Layton of Seminole kicked the PAT.

"It would have been real easy to give up," Henderson said. "I'm proud of them for not doing that."

Heaton also noticed the Pioneers' heart.

"They did a good job fighting until the end. They didn't quit," the Rams coach said.

The Pioneers recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and drove it as close as the Adams State 14-yard line before turning it over on downs.

The game's final points came as Adams State drove the length of the field for a first and goal at the 9 before the Wayland defense stiffened and Van Voris booted his fourth field goal.

Much like the final score, the Rams dominated the statistics: 33 first downs to 11, 277 yards rushing to 62, 365 yards passing to 94. Still, Henderson found several promising aspects of the Pioneers' play.

"Our kicking units really made a big jump (from last week), and our defensive front guys got in there and battled, especially for as long as they had to stay on the field. (Quarterback) Anthony (Campuzano) stood in there and threw the ball well, and our offensive line hung in there and did a good job fighting off their blitzes."

But Henderson also knows the Pioneers, who host Howard Payne at 2 p.m. next Saturday, have plenty of concerns, chief among them an injury to Campuzano's right throwing shoulder. The coach said the injury, which occurred early in the second half, would be evaluated Monday.

"The pressure is going to continue to mount as we look for that first win, but we have to not go beat ourselves up over this and realize the kind of football team we're capable of being," he said.

Even Adam State's Heaton, who said he understands Wayland's situation as a start-up program since he started up two high school programs, gave the Pioneers encouragement.

"They have some great athletes, and the people here are obviously excited (about having Wayland football)," he said. "They're going to have a good program. They're off to a good start. If they keep working they're going to be fine."

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