Kevin Lewis - Wayland Baptist University
The Wayland Baptist Pioneers finally found their offense against Houston Baptist, but then lost it again in the second half. Just as bad, the Pioneers’ defense went missing after halftime, too.
The Pioneers played Houston Baptist to a 28-28 halftime tie, only to see the Huskies run away in the second half and post the first win in program history on Saturday night in Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium, 52-28.
“We played two real good quarters and didn’t play the other two,” WBU coach Butch Henderson said. “That’s disappointing because what we worked so hard on in the offseason was the ability to play four quarters of football.”
After being shut out by NCAA Division II Adams State (Colo.), 44-0, in their season-opener, the Pioneers (0-2) came out on fire offensively against their first-ever NCAA Division I-AA opponent, which is in its inaugural season of football. Wayland scored on four of its eight first-half possessions, but after intermission Wayland’s offense sputtered and the Pioneers never sniffed the endzone again. WBU’s deepest second-half penetration was the Huskies’ 47-yard line.
“Offensively, I thought we played really well in the first half. All the pieces fell into place,” Henderson said. “But we came out in the second half and couldn’t get the momentum up to get back on that track.”
After racking up 14 first downs in the first half, the Pioneers managed only two in the second half, with one of those resulting from a Houston Baptist roughing-the-passer penalty. What’s more, after totaling 280 yards in the first two quarters, the Pioneers went backwards to the tune of six yards in the third and fourth periods.
Henderson said Wayland’s second-half drought didn’t result from the Huskies doing anything differently on defense after the break.
“They did the same thing the second half they did the first half. We just didn’t get that momentum back that we had when we were getting first downs and moving the ball.”
HBU, meanwhile, was a picture of consistency, getting 13 first downs each half. The Huskies put up 277 yards of offense in the first half and ended with 626 yards, with 347 of those coming on the ground and 279 in the air.
Houston Baptist also dominated time of possession, controlling the ball more than twice as long as Wayland.
“I thought we played with the same physicalness we did against Adams State,” Henderson said. “We’ve just go to do that for four quarters.”
Individually, Kendall Roberson led Wayland with 138 yards rushing – 123 in the first half – on 21 carries with two touchdowns on runs of 13 and two yards. Wayland’s three quarterbacks – Braden Hudson, Anthony Campuzano and Josh Houghtaling – combined to complete 13-of-33 passes for 127 yards. Braden Hudson led with 61 yards throwing, including a 28-yard TD pass to Brendan Pegg that tied it at 28 just 21 seconds before halftime. Pegg ended with four catches for 55 yards, and Ashton Tillman had the Pioneers’ other score on a 16-yard run.
On defense, Wayland was led by Tyler Smith and Jon-Lucas Poe, each with eight tackles. Smith also recovered a fumble.
“There were some bright things,” Henderson said. “Both phases (offense and defense) played really well the first half, and (punter) Jake Higgs kept us in good field position all night.”
Higgs, who averaged 46.2 yards on six punts, attempted a 51-yard field goal that had plenty of leg but missed right.
Houston Baptist got 182 yards rushing on 26 carries by B.J. Kelley, while Craig Bell Jr. scored three touchdowns.
After its second and final night game of the season, Wayland next plays in Brownwood against Howard Payne at 1 p.m. Sept. 21. The Yellowjackets (1-1) split their first two games, losing to Trinity University, 47-29, before defeating Wayland’s fellow Central States Football League member Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Saturday in Waxahachie, 41-27.
Henderson said the Pioneers will “reload” on Monday.
“When you play good people, you find out what you can and can’t do,” he said. “We’ll go in there and correct the things that showed up and start practicing those, then head to Howard Payne and get ready to try to go win a football game.”