Ottawa University football coach Kent Kessinger’s bread and butter on offense is a quick-striking passing game.
He is slowly redefining Ottawa’s offense this season. So far, Ottawa has been lethal on the ground.
The Braves set school records in rushing attempts (73) and yards (466) in Saturday’s dismantling of Bethel, 69-34, at Peoples Bank Field. Ottawa’s total yards of 655 was the fourth most for a single game in school history.
“Normally we like to pitch it around a little more,” Kessinger said. “They were giving us the run. We would line up and had numbers every time. We had them outmatched and outmanned.
“I ran the same play 30 to 40 times out of 73 times. It was nice to see the O-line get a good push. Even when they started blitzing, our running backs were running through tackles.”
Luke Lundy picked up 169 yards rushing on 22 carries. All but four carries were in the first half. Dexter Hayes had 22 attempts for 122 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Behr had 78 yards on eight carries.
“We have been working hard with our O-line the last couple of weeks on push and combination blocks,” Kessinger said. “We are working to get to the next level. Our backs were running downhill.
“It was pretty easy to call those plays. Lundy ran well in the first half. Dexter did a really good job in the second half.”
In all, 10 different Braves had rushing attempts, including sophomore Tanner Staats, who moved from receiver to running back for this game.
The passing attack also was good. Ottawa was 21 of 30 for 189 yards. Behr was 18 of 25 for 162 yards.
“I would like to see our passing game get unleashed a little bit more,” Kessinger said.
The Ottawa offense was clicking. After the first series, Ottawa scored on nine of the next 10 series.
It was just what Kessinger wanted after Ottawa let up after grabbing a big lead against Bethany last week.
Kessinger said when the running game is rolling, it is demoralizing to the other team.
“We wanted to start off well in the second half,” Kessinger said. “We got points on the first drive.”
Ottawa closed the game with a touchdown.
“We scored with all freshman on that last drive,” Kessinger said. “That was pretty encouraging for our future.”
Ottawa’s defense could not control Bethel liked it wanted to. Bethel has talented offensive players and rolled up 488 yards of offense.
“They are really good on offense,” Ottawa defensive coordinator Josh Homolka said. They have a good scheme. Their quarterbacks are pretty good. Their offense is ahead of their defense. They will get into shootouts with people.”
Ottawa played with reserves for most of the second half after grabbing a 38-14 halftime lead.
“We were trying to get some guys in the game,” Homolka said. “We came out and played well at the beginning of the second half. We have to get some of the younger guys to play better. We did well at times. We have some things to shore up.”
Kessinger said Ottawa showed it could contain Bethel at times, but not consistently.
“Defensively, we have a good scheme,” he said. “We played lights out in the first half. The third quarter we have some issues. There were times we were out of position.
“We will work on it this week. I was concerned about their passing attack. For the most part, we did a good job of forcing bad balls and getting pressure on the quarterback.”