Pioneers drop season-opener by FG in OT

Pioneers drop season-opener by FG in OT

Provided by Wayland Baptist Athletics

PHOENIX – Wayland Baptist rallied from behind to take a fourth-quarter lead, but Arizona Christian scored the last 10 points – including an overtime field goal – to win the Pioneers' season-opener Saturday night, 31-28.

“I felt like we were fixing to come back and win it. It just slipped out of our hands,” Wayland coach Butch Henderson said. “The kids played extremely hard all night.”

WBU quarterback Nick Quintero rallied the Pioneers in their season-opener by throwing for three touchdowns at Greenway High School, including two to Elijah Boyd. Their last hook-up from nine yards out gave Wayland a 28-21 lead with 7½ minutes left.

The Pioneer defense forced a punt, but the WBU offense went three-and-out and the Firestorm (2-0) got it back at their own 35 with 3:40 left. It took ACU seven plays to go 65 yards, the final 25 on a touchdown pass from Tyler Duncan to Zaachary Cullop. The PAT with 1:34 to play tied it.

WBU picked up one first down but, after three straight incompletions, punted back to the Firestorm, who couldn’t mount a drive in the final minute.

In overtime, Wayland got the ball first but on first down Jacoby Hunt lost a fumble that Deonsaye Dean recovered. The Pioneer defense did its part, forcing a fourth-and-4. But ACU kicker Nestor Higuera was up to the task and connected on a game-winning 35-yard field goal.

“The defense got some big turnovers in the second half that got us the two scores that got us back in it. The offense: started connecting and making plays,” Henderson said. "We did some good things. We just have to find a way to finish.

“We were close enough to be able to win it. We just have to figure out a way to make those things happen late in the game and finish it out.”

Quintero completed 17-of-34 passes for 153 yards and the three TDs. Daniel Hurn caught seven passes for 94 yards, including a 32-yard TD early in the fourth. Hunt led Wayland on the ground, running 21 times for 55 yards, including a 2-yard third-quarter score.

“Nick read (the defense) really well, Daniel did a great job, and Jacoby ran really hard. He was hard to knock down,” Henderson said.

For the Firestorm, Duncan completed 23-of-35 for 293 yards with two TDs and an interception. Ward rushed for 102 yards and a TD on 16 carries, and Sid Tumbull-Frazier caught seven passes for 109 yards and a score.

Wayland made up for being outgained 444-216 yards but forcing a pair of fumbles and an interception, by Max Burleson. The Pioneers were led defensively by linebacker Manny Arguijo’s 13 tackles. Samuel Daily recorded eight tackles, including 1½ sacks and 3½ tackles for loss.

Henderson said the Pioneers made some costly penalties (although ACU was penalized 15 times for 136 yards compared to WBU’s five for 54), and “we didn’t make some plays, but all-in-all it was a good start.”

The game ended just before midnight Texas time.

The Firestorm defeated Wayland for the sixth straight season, after the Pioneers won the teams' first-ever meeting in 2014.

The Pioneers are next in action Oct. 31 when they make their home-debut at 2 p.m. against Oklahoma-Panhandle State, which lost to Arizona Christian last week in Goodwell, 28-13. The Aggies (0-3) previously lost to Ottawa, Kan., 27-21, and to West Texas A&M, 58-7.