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Warriors roll, shut out Lions in home opener

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy: Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – Taking control in the first half, the Waldorf University football team never looked back and rolled to a 42-0 victory over Trinity Bible College during Saturday’s home opener.

“It was a good team win, because a lot of people contributed,” Waldorf coach Kent Anderson said. “We had a good night. Even though the game was sort of out of hand after a while, we stayed crisp.”

The Warriors (1-1) piled up 432 yards of offense and dominated the Lions (0-2), who were limited to just 23 yards of total offense. Both teams committed three turnovers. It wasn’t smooth sailing early as the Warriors lost fumbles on their first two possessions.

“I thought we still looked a little tight early, just pressing and trying to think we had to be perfect,” Anderson said. “We’d move the ball, but we’d sputter.”

Darryel Bethune, who powered Waldorf with 149 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, put the Warriors on the scoreboard following a 2-yard run with 2 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Waldorf led 7-0 at the end of the opening quarter and the Warriors never let off the brakes the rest of the way.

“As soon as we got the lead and as soon as things started to open up, you could just tell that the guys played a lot faster,” Anderson said. “They started turning things loose on both sides of the ball. They weren’t so worried about making mistakes. They were just playing.”

Bethune, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound running back from Miami, helped lead the charge for a Waldorf ground game that racked up 274 yards.

“Darryel is a physical back, but he’s got really nice vision,” Anderson said. “As a zone runner, he’s got really nice vision and great cutback ability. The thing I like about him is he mixes that cutback ability with some power, because he’s a strong runner.”

Maliek Stephens ran for 77 yards and Keidon Wallace added 53 yards as both running backs made trips to the end zone. Wallace also caught a 21-yard TD pass.

“All three of those freshman backs contributed,” Anderson said. “That’s a bright spot, because those are three guys who are playing in their first or second college football game, and they’re carrying the load of our running game. I think they’re going to just get better each week.”

The Warriors utilized a two-quarterback system. Freshman Hilton Joseph made his debut, completing 11-of-16 passes for 107 yards and two TDs. He also scrambled for 17 yards and a TD. Senior Isaac Sanchez went 9-of-13 passing for 51 yards.

“Each quarterback that we play, we’ve got a little bit different playbook with them,” Anderson said. “It just changes our approach. Isaac is very efficient and is like a general out there. With Hilton, you do some different things.”

Freshman Michael Payton led Waldorf’s receiving corps with 52 yards on six receptions. Sophomore Khalil Walker corralled five passes for 34 yards, and freshman Benjamin Mau finished with 23 yards on four receptions. Sophomore Cale Crowder hauled in a 19-yard TD catch.

Junior Sione Aonga recorded a team-high six tackles for the Warriors, collecting three sacks on the night and forcing a fumble. Freshman Kerry Curran turned in five tackles, and freshman Deriontay Williams provided four tackles. Sophomore Jacob Louisius recovered a fumble, while sophomore Connor Curran and senior Kali Louis each forced fumbles. Junior Wisley Jean and sophomore Dubem Awuzie came away with interceptions, returning picks for 19 and 46 yards, respectively.

“The one thing I see this year on defense that I haven’t seen in years past is a lot more team speed,” Anderson said. “They’ll be put to the test next week with a real quality opponent, but just the athleticism on defense is a little bit different this year.”

Waldorf pulled away with 19 second-quarter points. Joseph scored on a 4-yard quarterback keeper. Wallace punched it into the end zone on an 8-yard carry. With 1:59 to play in the first half, Wallace caught a 21-yard TD pass from Joseph to send the Warriors into halftime with a 26-0 lead.

Waldorf slammed the door shut, adding 16 points in the third quarter. Stephens provided a 4-yard TD run, freshman Patrick Harris blocked a punt into the end zone to record a safety and Joseph hit Crowder on a 19-yard TD pass. Freshman Marcel Linder converted on 4-of-6 point-after attempts.

The Warriors controlled time of possession 37:41 to 22:19. They recorded 25 first downs while holding Trinity Bible to four first downs.

After opening the season with a 23-19 road loss to Briar Cliff University (1-1) a week ago, Waldorf took care of business in its home opener to secure a shutout on Community Night.

“It was sharp and crisp and there were some very positive things to take away,” Anderson said. “With a young team, we needed something like that. We needed to be efficient on both sides of the ball and play sharp. It was a nice win for us.”

Hoping the first win will get the ball rolling, the Warriors know there’s still plenty of work ahead.

“We’ve got a lot of improvement to do,” Anderson said. “We still haven’t found the answers to some things.”

Waldorf faces Kansas Wesleyan University (1-0) next Saturday in a 6 p.m. kickoff at Salina, Kansas. The Coyotes, who are ranked No. 13 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) preseason poll, opened the season with a 27-21 win over Briar Cliff on Saturday. They’re not an opponent to take lightly, and the Warriors understand that after being handed a 34-9 season-opening loss by Kansas Wesleyan in last year’s meeting.

“They’re going to show big improvement between the first and second game,” Anderson said. “We know what they’re capable of. We’re a young team, and we’re just going to try to take it week by week. We’ve just got to keep working ourselves to get better.”