Thursday, October 23, 2014

Playoffs start for Braves

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 10/29/2013

The Ottawa University football team’s goal of qualifying for the playoffs for the fifth straight year is still intact.

“Our playoffs start now,” Ottawa defensive coordinator Josh Homolka said after the Braves’ 82-21 dismantling of Southwestern Saturday at Peoples Bank Field. “We have to play our butts off the rest of the season.”

The Ottawa University football team’s goal of qualifying for the playoffs for the fifth straight year is still intact.

“Our playoffs start now,” Ottawa defensive coordinator Josh Homolka said after the Braves’ 82-21 dismantling of Southwestern Saturday at Peoples Bank Field. “We have to play our butts off the rest of the season.”

Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger said Ottawa has three to pull for a championship.

The Braves passing attack came out of hibernation in its homecoming victory. Ottawa threw for a season-best 391 yards. The Ottawa defense held Southwestern scoreless in the final 39 minutes, including giving up 15 yards in the second half.

Ottawa rewrote the record book. The 676 total yards was third all-time for a single game. Jeff Stamp kicked a single-game school record of 11 extra points.

Luke Lundy, who had 145 yards rushing and two touchdowns, surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He is the first back to accomplish that since 2003.

“[Quarterback] Mike Behr played fantastic,” Kessinger said. “He did a good job of throwing the football. Luke ran hard. It was a good day overall. We made plays. They did a good job of executing.”

Behr was 19 of 28 for 303 yards and four touchdowns. It was a career-best day for yards and touchdowns.

“We ran some wheel routes to keep them honest,” Kessinger said. “It was just execution.”

Besides the extra points record, the special teams made an impact with a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown. It was the first time since 2010 Ottawa has accomplished that.

Josh Stangby had a big day with a 94-yard kickoff return along with touchdown catches of 51 and 53 yards. He finished with 147 yards receiving. Senior Jon Hilliger had 102 yards on 10 catches.

The Ottawa defense settled down after giving up 270 yards in the first half. Southwestern was within 28-21 with just under nine minutes left in the first half.

“We did not make any changes to the scheme,” Homolka said. “They scored on the same play three times. After we got settled down, we played pretty well. We were a little over amped.

“There were three series in a row we fell apart. Stuff good defenses don’t usually do. We made a couple of mistakes. We looked like we had never seen a no-huddle offense before.”

Ottawa (6-2, 5-1) is still in a four-way tie for the conference lead with Friends, Sterling and Tabor.

Ottawa plays 1:30 p.m. Saturday at home against Kansas Wesleyan.

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