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Braves football rushes past McPherson

Greg Mast
gmast@ottawaherald.com
Ottawa University running back Derrick Curtis avoids a tackle by a McPherson defender Saturday in the Braves' victory. Curtis rushed for 255 yards and scored three touchdowns.

The Ottawa University football team has been wide-open uptempo offensive machine under coach Kent Kessinger.

He won a lot of games using that philosophy. Kessinger, who is in his 17th year as Braves head coach, went back to old-fashioned offensive football to post his 100th career victory.

The Braves’ ground game pounded out 282 yards and the defense forced four turnovers in the 31-13 victory over McPherson Saturday at AdventHealth Field. Kessinger is just the second OU football coach to eclipse 100 wins.

“It is a great accolade,” Kessinger said of the milestone. “It is not my wins. The wins are team wins.”

The Braves were coming off a monthlong break since their opener because of a COVID-19 quarantine.

“You could tell we had not played a game in four weeks,” Kessinger said. “We did a lot of first-game things. There are so many football things that our guys can learn from this. Taking care of the football and communicating.

“What is nice we got a win that we can work with. We can teach them some of those things.”

Running back Derrick Curtis ran around and through the McPherson defense for 255 yards on 28 attempts for a 9.1 yards per attempt average. He scored two rushing touchdowns and caught a pass for another.

“Derrick Curtis ran really, really well for us,” Kessinger said. “You have redshirt sophomores and two freshmen along the offensive line.”

Curtis is the first Brave since Tanner Staats to rush for 200 yards or more in a game. Staats ran for 200 yards twice during the 2015 season.

The defense limited McPherson to 18 yards rushing, the lowest allowed since the 2017 season when Ottawa held Saint Mary to 4 yards rushing.

The defense also forced the turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown on a fumble return. OU's defense had three interceptions, one recovered fumble, and six pass breakups. Linebacker Colby Johnson led the Braves with 14 tackles, had an interception and forced a fumble.

“I am happy with our defensive play,” Kessinger said. “Defensively, we were making some crazy changes. We moved a safety out to corner because we don’t have any corners at this point.”

Kessinger said the message to the Braves all season has been accountability and responsibility.

Ottawa (2-0) plays 1 p.m. Saturday against nationally ranked Bethel in North Newton. The Threshers display a high-flying option offense.

Kessinger said that type of offense is so different than anyone else plays.

“We will have to be really disciplined,” he said.

Ottawa University football coach Kent Kessinger discusses strategy on the sideline. Kessinger won his 100th career game in Saturday's 28-13 victory over McPherson.