The Ottawa University football team has been a second half team this season. The Braves found another gear Saturday in the second half at Peoples Bank Field.
Ottawa outscored Southwestern 23-7 and the defense limited the Moundbuilders to 142 yards in the second half of the Braves’ 40-21 victory.
Ottawa senior quarterback Shane Gimzo doesn’t know why it takes until the second half to get rolling, but can feel the tide turning has the second half progressed in the win over Southwestern.
“Everybody did their assignment,” Gimzo said. “It takes time to get it rolling. We have things to clean up.”
In short, the difference on offense was Ottawa finished drives and the defense stopped drives. In fact, the defense was not scored upon.
The only points in the second half came as a result of a fumble return by the Moundbuilder defense for a touchdown.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” Ottawa defensive coordinator Josh Homolka said. “We moved DeVontae Corbitt out to corner and he did a really good job. We did not tackle very well in the first half. We had not been a bad tackling defense. We gave up two big plays in the first half.
“Until we make plays at corner, we will get challenged over the top. DeVantae made a play on the interception. He has been playing outside linebacker.
“We played Ottawa football in the second half. We were a lot more focused.”
The Ottawa offense found seams in the Moundbuilder defense to run the ball in the second half. Ottawa rushed for 124 of its 135 yards in the second half.
“The guys settled in a little bit,” Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger said. “We talked at halftime [about] ways to being able to run the football. That is why we went to our double tight set. Instead of trying to pound it in the middle — their nose guard is very good player — we decided to get outside more. Dexter [Hayes] ran the ball extremely well.”
Hayes had his first 100-yard game with 104 yards. He had a long run of 57 yards.
Gimzo was 21 of 33 for 332 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
"We did a lot of play action,” Kessinger said. “That will keep people honest. We got some good one-on-one matchups.”
Gimzo said when one unit begins to take over the others follow.
“Everybody feeds off it,” he said. “Everyone was making plays in all [phases] of the game. Field position is a big part of the game.”
The Ottawa defense had several standouts. Senior defensive lineman Zach Van Duesen led Ottawa with 10 tackles and a blocked field goal. Weston Coomes had his best game of his career with nine tackles with three for losses. Eric Wilson had eight tackles.
Coons said the motto of the defense is “keep winning every play.”
The Ottawa win coupled with Kansas Wesleyan’s loss to Tabor turned the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference into a logjam at the top. Ottawa, Wesleyan, Tabor, Friends and McPherson are tied for the lead with one loss each.
Ottawa (3-2, 3-1) plays 7 p.m. Saturday at home against McPherson (3-1, 3-2).
O — Stamp 38 FG.
O — Hilliger 26 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
S — Bannister 39 pass from Barrett (Mayer kick).
S — Kistler 35 pass from Barrett (Mayer kick).
O — Adamson 28 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
O — Hayes 6 run (Stamp kick).
S — Mangrum 16 fumble return (Mayer kick).
O — Stamp 26 FG.
O — Hilliger 18 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
O — Baer 23 run (pass failed).
Rushing — Ottawa (39-135): Hayes 12-104; Gimzo 18-37; Baer 6-15; Hilliger 1-2; SW (50-185): Strohl 21-94; Crandall 12-64; Sims 13-42; Barrett 2-(-4); Qualls 2-(-11).
Passing — Ottawa: Gimzo 21-33-0 332; SW: Barrett 10-31-1 163; Crandall 4-9-0 55.
Receiving — Ottawa: Hilliger 8-126; Adamson 6-127; Baer 3-41; Wilkerson 2-30; Croson 1-5; Wood 1-3; SW: Bannister 7-106; Kistler 3-57; Butler 1-19; Vargas 1-15; Holloway 1-15; Trembley 1-6.
Tackles: Ottawa: Van Duesen 10, Coomes 9, Wilson 8, Corbitt 6, Bruto 6, Semmel 6, Gross 5; SW: Lewis 9, Mata 9, Harper 8, Zerger 7, Mangrum 6.