“This one was round one of our championship possibilities,” Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger said. “We have round two coming up with Tabor. They will be stoked. They have a chance to be spoiler. We have to work on things we did not do well. We want to keep on playing.”
Ottawa (8-2, 7-1) are in position to at least share the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and qualify for the fifth straight year for the playoffs.
It was not easy to get out of Wichita with a victory.
“We definitely had our issues,” Kessinger said. “There definitely was some ugly parts offensively, ugly parts defensively. Special teams was the best. If you can win ugly ... win is the key.”
The second half turned into a track meet after Ottawa took a 21-7 lead into halftime.
“We found out how to make plays,” Kessinger said. “You have to have the discipline to play the next play. That is an important mark of a championship-type team is to be able to shrug off the bad plays and come back and make a good play.”
Ottawa answered Friends scoring drives with drives of its own. The Falcons scored to slice the lead to 21-14.
Friends scored again on a recovered fumble in the end zone.
Ottawa answered again with a 73-yard drive. Luke Lundy, who rushed for 164 yards and four touchdowns, scored from the 10. Ottawa led 35-21 with 8:45 left.
The Falcons drove the field for another score to come within 35-28 with six minutes remaining.
Then it was Ottawa’s turn, starting at its own 19. Jon Hilliger caught a 66-yard pass, but the drive stalled. Jeff Stamp, who missed a field goal and had an extra point blocked earlier in the game, nailed a 36-yard field goal.
“He makes a huge, huge field goal,” Kessinger said. “He came back from the ugliness that he had initially.”
Kessinger said that was a good example of how Ottawa bounced back all game long.