The Braves tied school records for interceptions (7) and total turnovers (9) in their 35-3 rout of Friends University Saturday at Peoples Bank Field.
Ottawa senior corner Donald Anderson set a single-game school record with four interceptions. Teammate Matt Gross had three interceptions against Friends in 2010 when the team records were initially set.
Senior safety Logan Schultz had three interceptions. Schultz, Anderson and Cumberlands’ Adrian Hightower lead the NAIA with nine interceptions.
Anderson was named the NAIA and KCAC defensive player of the week.
No. 16 Ottawa (7-2, 7-1) can seal the KCAC title Saturday with a victory over winless Bethel in North Newton.
“We are 60 minutes away from ensuring a conference championship,” Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger said. “We have to beat Bethel. They do a good job. They have some athletes. They don’t have a lot of numbers. We know we are guaranteed one more game.”
Ottawa defensive coordinator Josh Homolka figures the Threshers will give Ottawa all it has.
Schultz said this is not the time to have a letdown.
“We can’t take them for granted,” he said.
The Ottawa defense appeared to know everything Friends was trying to do.
“We played the defense we have been striving to play all year,” Homolka said. “We had them dialed up pretty good. Our defense did a good job of watching film all week. Everything we thought would happen happened.”
Schultz said the defense and all the seniors were on a mission against Friends in the final home game of their careers.
“The past four years we have played our best ball against Friends,” Schultz said. “We always come out real emotional and real intense. There is not a much better way to go out than beat Friends by 30 or more points on senior day. We all showed up and talked about making this our best game. We definitely did.”
Kessinger said the seniors, especially on defense, rose to the occasion.
“I was happy for our seniors,” Kessinger said. “They played really well. Logan Schultz and Donald Anderson ... [Nate] Bruto played really well. He was solid on special teams. The guys upfront ... Zach [Van Duesen] and Pierce [Hutchens] played solid too. Our defensive seniors played extremely well.”
Bruto led Ottawa with 13 tackles, a fumble recovery and caused a fumble. Chris Magdelena and Matt Gross had 11 tackles each.
“Our defense played lights out,” Kessinger said. “They caused turnovers. That is something we had a propensity to do against Friends in the past couple of years. Our offense capitalized in the first half. We were able to go fast.
“We were able to get some rhythm going offensively, plus got some short fields. Anytime you get short fields, you have to come away with points. They played us in a lot of man-to-man. We had some nice matchups.”
Senior quarterback Shane Gimzo tossed four touchdown passes as Ottawa was held to 295 yards by the nationally-ranked Friends defense.
O — Hilliger 18 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
F — Pohlman 29 FG.
O — Adamson 17 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
O — Anderson 62 interception return (Stamp kick).
O — Wilkerson 14 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
O — Cabrales 12 pass from Gimzo (Stamp kick).
Rushing — Ottawa (41-144): Gimzo 19-71; Staats 14-49; Cabrales 6-30; Johnson 1-0; Friends (45-186): Hankerson 18-74; Racette 9-42; Taylor 6-19; Scott 2-10; Bristow 10-(-7).
Passing — Ottawa: Gimzo 14-22-2 151; Friends: Bristow 9-22-4 123; Racette 2-10-3 46.
Receiving — Ottawa: Hilliger 9-75; Adamson 2-34; Hernandez 1-16; Wilkerson 1-14; Cabrales 1-12; Friends: Butts 4-62; Allen 3-83; Kelly 2-15; Racette 1-5; Hyde 1-4.
Tackles — Ottawa: Bruto 13, Magdalena 11, Gross 11, Anderson 8, Hutchens 5, Wilson 5; Friends: Carter 11, Scott 7, Bautista 6, Lenhart 6; McKinney 5.