Provided by: Wayland Baptist University
They didn't earn the win, but the Wayland Baptist Pioneers definitely earned the respect of the Bacone College Warriors.
A year after falling to Bacone, 53-0, Wayland turned in one of its most promising performances of the season on Saturday afternoon at Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium. The Pioneers fought tooth and nail from the opening kickoff to the final horn, but ultimately fell to the Warriors in the homecoming contest, 16-9.
"We hung in there and played," Wayland coach Butch Henderson said. "Now it's just a matter of being able to finish one out."
Wayland (0-6, 0-2 Sooner Athletic Conference) trailed 13-0 at halftime before outscoring the Warriors (4-2, 1-0) in the second half, 9-3. The Pioneers had several opportunities to drive for a score and take the lead in the final two quarters, but couldn't sustain a drive without encountering drive-killing penalties, turnovers or dropped passes.
The Pioneers turned the ball over three times and had nine penalties; Bacone gave it away twice and was flagged 16 times.
"We played really hard," Henderson said. "We played extremely well defensively and our kicking units made some fantastic things happen. Offensively, we have to get where when we really need it we can punch one in."
The Warriors took a 6-0 lead on a 61-yard pass play from Kyle Kuban to Larry Stokes late in the first quarter. The PAT kick was blocked. Bacone made it 13-0 following a 5½-minute, 68-yard drive capped by a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Karl Birkenfield. That lengthy march saw the Warriors complete a 14-yard pass on fourth-down-and-11 at the Wayland 28-yard line.
Wayland's offense converted just two first downs in the first half, but finally found a spark in the second half. It started on the Pioneers' second possession of the third period and featured a 48-yard pass from Josh Houghtaling to Chris Acosta on a play that saw the first of two Bacone players removed from the game for targeting.
"That was as big-time a catch as I've seen," Henderson said of Acosta's grab.
Two plays later, Kendall Roberson ran over left tackle from 12 yards out to get the Pioneers on the board five minutes into the half. JT Torres' kick pulled Wayland to within 13-7.
The fourth quarter started with Wayland on the move again. The Pioneers wound up punting, but Marcellus Henderson's boot was downed at the Bacone 1 by Alden Mann. Bacone managed just five yards before a high snap sailed over the Warrior punter's head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety, making it 13-9 with 13:26 still left to play.
The teams traded possessions and then the Pioneers were rolling again, this time driving to Bacone's 27 where three straight incompletions after having it second-down-and-3 gave it back to the Warriors. They managed one first down before having to punt it back to Wayland, although the Pioneers couldn't do much with it either. Roberson was dropped for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the WBU 44.
With 4:53 left to play, Bacone took over and, following a 14-yard completion on third-and-9, got a 37-yard field goal from Nick Cannon to give the Warriors a bit more breathing room, 16-9, with just 1:28 to play.
The Pioneers got a promising 21-yard pass from Houghtaling to Josh Bailey that moved the ball to near midfield, but that's where hope ended, with two incompletions and a quarterback sack on fourth-and-1 with 32 seconds left.
"We have to be able to drive and score in situations like that," Henderson said.
Wayland ended with 15 first downs and 290 yards of offense, compared to Bacone's 20 firsts and 426 yards. Most of Bacone's production came before halftime, most of Wayland's after.
Roberson, the CSFL's leading rusher averaging 153 yards, ended with 46 steps and one TD on 17 carries. Houghtaling completed 16-of-36 for 204 yards, while Chris Acosta caught four passes for 91 yards.
On defense, the Pioneers were led by Jon-Lucas Poe's 11.5 tackles (9 solo), Tyler Smith's 10 (8 solo) and David Hockenberry's 9.5 (8 solo). Poe had two of Wayland's eight tackles for loss.
"The defense played well. They pressured the quarterback well," Henderson said. "Jon Poe and Tyler Smith were making tackles left and right."
Coach Henderson, who also praised the play of fill-in punter Marcellus Henderson, said the Pioneers have lots of little pieces of the puzzle. It's just a matter of putting them all together.
"We're just on that verge. It's a matter of being able to take that next step for us to win," he said.
After a three-game home stand, the Pioneers hit the road for Shawnee, Okla., next Saturday to take on Oklahoma Baptist (1-5), which in its first season on the gridiron picked up its first win this weekend on the road against NCAA Division III's Southwestern University in Georgetown, 42-21.
While Wayland is searching for its first victory this season after winning twice in its inaugural campaign in 2012, Henderson said the Pioneers got a shot in the arm by hanging with defending CSFL champion Bacone.
"Bacone is the conference leader and sitting at the top of things, and we had an opportunity against them," Henderson said. "We regained a lot of confidence today. Now it's just a matter of being able to go ahead and win."