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Dan Dawdy drops back to pass today against Southwestern
Football - Sat, Oct. 7, 2017

WICHITA – On a Homecoming afternoon that could have saw the Friends University Falcons fold many times, they found a way to dig deep turn it up a notch by rallying in the fourth quarter for a thrilling 20-13 victory over the Southwestern College Moundbuilders in front of a national ESPN3 audience today (Oct. 7) at Adair-Austin Stadium.

For the viewers tuning in for the first-ever KCAC game featured on ESPN3, they witnessed a dandy.

"I take it upon myself to make sure these kids are always competing and we always have hope," Friends football head coach Dion Meneley said. "We've been so close, they understand it's just a play here and there and we'll be back in it."

The final dagger could have been when the Falcons, trailing 13-3, drove down to the Southwestern 13 yard line before Dan Dawdy (FR/Haysville, Kan.) tossed an interception to end the threat.

Not only would the Falcons bounce back from that point, but Dawdy in particular, who answered the bell after the Falcons defense held the Moundbuilders to a three and out by promptly finding Sam Camp (SR/Winfield, Kan.) in the corner of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass.

From there, the Falcon defensive unit, who had battled all day to keep Friends close, took over as Tim Hamilton (SR/Wichita, Kan.) forced a fumble that was recovered by Jordan Brookins (JR/Fort Worth, Texas) that set the Falcons up at the Southwestern 34 with 3:55 remaining.

It didn't take long for the Falcons to capitalize, as Dawdy hit Noah Diaz (FR/Sun Prairie, Wis.) for 21 yards and then connected with Jacob Cron (SR/Johnson, Kan.) for a go-ahead touchdown pass that put Friends on top 17-13 with 3:25 remaining.

The defense wasn't through creating havoc and forced another turnover when Kelechi Chukwuka (SR/Aurora, Colo.) recovered a fumble at the Southwestern 17 that led to a 39-yard field goal by Leo Sosa (SR/Soa Paulo, Brazil) that pushed the Falcon edge to 20-13 at the 2:15 mark.

With the Moundbuilders having one final opportunity to tie the score, Josh Lewis (SR/Wichita, Kan.) burst through the line on fourth and eight and put a huge punctuation mark on the victory with a sack that allowed the Falcons to run out the clock.

"I didn't actually call that play, but Josh saw something opened up wide with verticals and he made a great play," Meneley said.

The Falcons took their first possession of the game from their own 15 all the way down to the Moundbuilder three yard line, but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Sosa for the early 3-0 lead.

The next two drives saw the Falcons penetrate into Southwestern territory, including one on an interception by John Buchanan (SR/Wichita, Kan.), but stalled each time, with the last being a turnover on downs.

The Moundbuilders grabbed the lead when an interception by Ka'Darious McQueen at the 20 was returned all the way to the Falcon 12 that led to a seven yard touchdown run by Christian Gordon to give Southwestern a 7-3 lead at the half.

Mario Esparza then extended the Southwestern lead by connecting on 46 and 41 yard field-goal attempts three minutes apart in the third quarter.

After the offense's next nine drives following the early field goal produced six punts, two interceptions and a turnover on downs, Dawdy made the clutch throws late in the fourth quarter to finish with 244 yards passing in his first career start.

"I told the team that it was time for the offensive line to take charge, and when that happened, Dan was able to do what he does," Meneley said.  "I told him it was incredible what he did, he's got a lot to him."

Diaz rushed for 60 yards and led the team with 63 yards receiving on four catches. Cron had five catches for 53 yards and Sam Camp also hauled in five catches for 42 yards.

Chukwuka led the Falcons with five tackles and 2.5 sacks, giving him 4.5 sacks the past two games.

Hamilton recorded two sacks, while Lewis and Josh Gilchrist (JR/Wichita, Kan.) each had one sack.

The Falcons limited Gordon to only 17-of-36 passing for 125 yards and one interception. Keyshawn Wyatt led the Moundbuilders with 55 yards on the ground and Carvontez Gates had 10 catches for a game-high 77 receiving yards.

The Falcons will next play at No. 25-ranked Kansas Wesleyan University next Saturday afternoon (Oct. 14) at 1:30 pm in Salina, Kan. It'll be the third nationally ranked team Friends has faced this season.