Braves top Friends, sit in second-place tie

The Herald Staff
Ottawa University senior linebacker Colby Johnson (40) has put together a solid season with double digit tackles in each game this season. [PHOTO BY GREG MAST/THE OTTAWA HERALD].

The Ottawa University football team is making a run at the KCAC lead.

The Braves are off to a 4-1 start overall and 3-1 in the KCAC after finishing 10th last season. Ottawa sits a game behind nationally-ranked Bethel and is tied for second with Southwestern and Avila.

Ottawa used two touchdowns, less than two minutes apart, in the fourth quarter, to top Friends, 35-28, Saturday in Wichita. Ottawa has won 10 of the past 12 meetings with Friends and has not lost in Wichita in a dozen years.

The Falcons battled Ottawa, which twice had 14-point leads. Ottawa rediscovered its passing game. The Braves hit Friends with a balanced attack, 237 yards rushing and 197 yards passing for 434 yards of offense. Ottawa rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two.

Derrick Curtis, who came into the game as the NAIA’s top rusher, picked up 130 yards and scored three touchdowns.

The Ottawa offense hit Friends with big plays and efficient drives.

Ottawa scored on its first two possessions of the game. It was the fourth time in five games, Ottawa has scored on its first drive.

Sophomore quarterback Colton Davis ran 3 yards for a score. On the next possession, he tossed the first of his two touchdown passes, a 51-yard strike to Curtis. Davis finished 10-for-19 passing.

Friends answered with a score late in the first quarter to come within 14-7.

Curtis sprinted 61 yards for his second score of the game early in the second quarter to give Ottawa a 21-7 lead.

Friends found momentum after a blocked field goal in the third quarter. Friends put together two touchdown drives to tie the game at 21 with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Ottawa quickly answered, retaking the lead on a four-play, 67-yard drive. Curtis scored his third touchdown on a 4-yard run with 10:38 left.

The Braves defense forced a turnover on downs at the Falcon 33. On the first play, Davis hooked up with senior receiver Dylan Foos for a score. Ottawa lead 35-21 with nine minutes remaining.

‘Friends responded with a seven-play, 70-yard touchdown drive to come within 35-28 with 6:51 remaining.

The teams traded turnovers and Ottawa punted the ball back to Friends with 2:33 remaining. The Ottawa defense held the Falcons to no yards to seal the victory. Yan Keuwo tackled the Falcon quarterback on fourth-and-20 with 1:52 remaining.

Jermaine Ziegler caught give passes for 103 yards.

Colby Johnson led Ottawa with 14 tackles. Aaron Shoeman finished 13 tackles and 3.5 sacks, which tied for second in the program history for single-game sacks. He was selected the KCAC Defensive Player of the Week.

Ottawa plays its fourth straight road game Saturday in Salina against Kansas Wesleyan, the two-time defending conference champs.