The progress continues under coach Joe Prud’homme for the Texas Wesleyan University football team.
The Rams recently concluded their third season back after a 76-year sabbatical. They posted their best record yet, finishing 3-7, including a 3-1 record at their home stadium, Farrington Field.
The three on-field wins are one more than they had in their first two seasons combined, though they showed vast improvement from the first season to the second. In the first season back, 2017, they had no wins on the field, though they did get two forfeit victories, ironically. Last season they improved to 2-8 and were one score away from perhaps winning three other games, with another loss by 10 points.
This season, though it started slow for the Rams with losses of 48-24 at then No. 4 (NAIA) Kansas Wesleyan and 58-13 at NCAA Division I Houston Baptist, was overall much more exciting on the field. Along with their three wins, the Rams again had three losses by a single score, and another 10-point defeat. One of the losses went double overtime.
Overall, the Rams averaged 33 points per game while surrendering 42. At home, however, they outscored their opponents by a 43-30 margin, including scoring a team-record amount of points in a 61-24 win over Texas College at homecoming.
“We made tremendous strides this past year, with implementing a summer strength and conditioning program and taking several teams to the wire,” Prud’homme said. “The difference between 3-7 and 7-3 was eight plays. That was done with 11 true freshmen and seven sophomores playing major minutes.”
The Rams began with four – that’s right, four – consecutive road games. They played six road games in all.
Talk about a test of character. A lot of teams, especially young teams, might have folded up their tent and looked to next season after a rough 0-4 start, but not the Rams. They used the momentum from close losses in the third and fourth road games (42-38 at Ottawa and 53-45 at Lyon) to rise to a 52-44 triple-overtime victory against Southwestern Assemblies of God in their home opener.
“We survived a brutal four-game road stretch that forced us to grow up fast,” Prud’homme said. “The future is bright as long we continue to take steps to grow and build the program institutionally. Next year should be our breakout year.”
That wasn’t the only time the Rams showed resilience this season. After falling 34-28 in two overtimes at Oklahoma Panhandle State, they posted the aforementioned homecoming victory. Then, after their worst performance of the season (and perhaps worst since the program re-emerged), a 69-7 loss at Langston, they ended the season with a 24-6 win over Wayland Baptist, the first time they have held an opponent without a touchdown since coming back.
Adding to the excitement and optimism for next season is a roster this year that featured only 13 seniors. It was loaded with 41 freshmen, 21 sophomores, and 20 juniors.
The top five receivers this season were all underclassmen (two juniors, three sophomores). Three of the four quarterbacks as well (junior, sophomore, freshman), and two of the top four rushers (junior, freshman).
Defensively, five of the six leading tacklers are back (junior, two sophomores, two freshman). All four leading tacklers for loss return (junior, two sophomores, freshman), and three of the four sack leaders are back (two sophomores freshman), along with four of the five interception leaders (two juniors, sophomore, freshman), and both placekickers (sophomore, freshman).
Once again, it seems the best is yet to come for Texas Wesleyan football.
Recapping the 2019 Rams
Overall record: 3-7
Sooner Athletic Conference: 3-4
Home offense: 43.0
Home defense: 29.8
Road offense: 25.8
Road defense: 50.7
Season high score: 61-24 over Texas College at homecoming
Record in one-score games: 1-3
Record in overtime games: 1-1
Turnovers/takeaways: 24-20 (Rams defenders had 16 interceptions)
Third-down conversions: TWU 26.4%, opponents 35.8%
Fourth-down conversions: TWU 40.6, opponents 53.6.
Rushing – Jermarcus Jones, sr., 518 yards, 10 TD; Trey Jackson, sr., 383 yards, 2 TD; Keaton Huebner, jr., 238 yards, 3 TD.
Passing – Avery Childs, jr., 1,021 yards, 11 TD, 10 int.; Donovan Isom, sr., 744 yards, 7 TD, 1 int.; Collier Ricks, soph., 172 yards, 3 TD.
Receiving – LeMant Monroe, jr, 35 catches, 448 yards, 2 TD; Brandon Rolfe, 32-699, 8 TD; Ricks, 27-424, 6 TD; Tyler Pullig, soph., 22-269, 3 TD; Cole Maxwell, 16-147, 1 TD.
Tackles – Mark Seidler, fr., 68; Devin Griffin, sr, 62; Dylan Pettaway, soph., 56; Chance Carroll, soph., 51.
Tackles for loss – Cody Pettit, soph., 17; Darnerick Scott, jr., 15; Seidler, 12; Pettaway, 10.
Sacks – Seidler, 7.5; Pettit, 7; Shawn Benson, sr., 4.5; Pettaway, 3.5.
Interceptions – Elijah Hall, fr., 3; Damien Francis, jr., 2; Tarik Davis, jr., 2; Pettaway, 2; Griffin, 2.
Field goals – Gregory Blaser, soph., 5-7, long 39; Saul Fernandez, fr., 1-2, long 24.
PAT kicks – Blaser, 18-23; Fernandez, 17-17.
Players of the Week: Sadler, defense; Rolfe, offense; Blaser, special teams; Jones, offense; Diamond Williams, sr.