Moving the ball wasn’t the problem for Kentucky State’s football team Saturday night.
Putting it in the end zone was another story.
Kentucky Wesleyan spoiled KSU’s season opener, defeating the Thorobreds 13-6 at Alumni Stadium.
“We couldn’t get out of our own way,” K-State coach Wayne Dickens said. “When you can’t make a catch that’s thrown straight and you can’t get the one call that goes against you and calls back a touchdown, and it wasn’t a penalty … we let them hang around, and when you don’t handle your business that’s kind of what happens.”
KWC (1-1) scored first Saturday on a drive set up by an interception.
Zach Rahm’s pick of a Martez James pass gave the Panthers the ball at the KSU 36-yard line with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
The drive ended with Ta’Ron Squires catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Will Barnes. Matt Wilson kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead, and that was still the score at halftime.
In the first half James had 10 incomplete passes, but several of those were dropped by his receivers.
“Our defense played well,” Dickens said, “and we had opportunities on offense, but we didn’t finish. We couldn’t make big plays. If you’re a skill position player in college football you’re supposed to make those plays.
“The plays we didn’t make weren’t extraordinary plays. They are ones you see every day if you watch college football.
“That kind of thing happens with a young football team,” Dickens said. “It’s their time to go out and play, the lights are on, they think here’s my chance, and it just kind of goes through their fingers.”
The Panthers extended their lead to 10-0 on a 35-yard field goal by Wilson with 10:10 left in the third quarter.
On KSU’s next possession Joey Pierce III came in at quarterback, and he scored the Thorobreds’ only touchdown on a 24-yard run with 2:57 remaining in the third.
The drive took seven plays and covered 56 yards. Cade Berryman missed the extra-point kick, leaving the score at 10-6.
“Martez is fine,” Dickens said. “We made a change to see if we could get a spark and we got a little spark for a little bit, but then we went back to not being able to close the deal.”
K-State was forced to punt from its own 49-yard line with 10:21 left in the game, starting the Panthers on a 72-yard scoring drive that took just over nine minutes.
It ended with Wilson’s second field goal of the game, this one covering 30 yards, and came with just 1:12 left in the game.
Facing fourth and 10 at the KSU 26-yard line, Pierce completed a pass to Justin Williams that fell just inches short of first down with 43 seconds left.
KWC’s quarterback took a knee twice to run out the clock.
The Thorobreds had 192 yards total offense but gave up just 207 yards, 192 of those coming through the air as Barnes went 18-for-24.
KSU’s Kenny Townsend had 14 tackles including three sacks.
“The first game is always a good barometer of where you are, and we’re not good right now at finishing plays,” Dickens said. “We had opportunities to make plays and found ways not to make them.
“It’s a question of first going to the meeting room and looking at them and making corrections, then getting on the practice field and repeating those corrections, getting it done.”
The Thorobreds play this coming Saturday against Lincoln in Philadelphia.
nKWC freshman Christian Wilkins, a graduate of Western Hills, was the Panthers’ starting long snapper for punts.