LANGSTON — Langston took care of business Saturday, but now it's up to the NAIA pollsters to decide if the No. 24-ranked Lions deserve to make the postseason.
Langston, which needs to rank 20th or above to qualify for the playoffs, mashed Wayland Baptist (Texas) 33-0 before an estimated 2,500 spectators at Anderson Stadium. The win moved the Lions to 6-4, capping a regular season that started with four consecutive road losses to NCAA Division I-AA programs.
Once Langston began playing NAIA-level teams, coach Dwone Sanders said he felt like his club still had a shot to make the postseason. What the Lions had to do was win their last six — and do so convincingly, even if it meant keeping the accelerator to the floorboard in games that were well in hand.
“Nothing personal, just business,” Sanders said.
The Lions will find out at 3 p.m. Sunday if they've done enough to make the cut. The selection show link can be found at NAIA.org.
Until then, everyone in the Langston camp will be on pins and needles.
“The kids did what I asked them do to after those first four rough games against I-Double-A's,” Sanders said. “So now we'll just let the powers that be, the commissioners, the NAIA (voters) judge us fairly. We've won six in a row, and we beat every NAIA school we played. Whatever their thoughts are, we hope that they find Langston favorable on Sunday.”
A week after leading Langston to a Central States Football League championship-clinching victory at then-No. 22 Bacone, quarterback Mark Wright Jr. was again solid. The redshirt freshman threw for 168 yards and a touchdown. Nine different players carried the football for the Lions, with Jawahn Hunt, Jayce Boyd, Kenrick Robertson and D'Mark Collier each running for a TD.
Langston's defense was excellent. The Lions held Wayland Baptist (0-10) to 228 total yards and forced eight turnovers, including two interceptions by defensive back Talibb Woods. Langston had eight sacks for minus-26 yards and 14 total tackles for minus-54 yards.
“It would be a shame if we didn't get in,” Sanders said. “All we can do is keep the faith, and if they give us that shot, we'll be ready to play again.”
Langston scored on its first possession, taking just three plays before Wright connected with Cordara Frazier for a 24-yard touchdown. The Lions then went into a lull, failing to score on their next four possessions. But Langston started to develop rhythm on offense in the second quarter, getting a 6-yard touchdown run from Robertson and a 23-yard scoring run from Boyd to take a 20-0 lead.
LU started the back-to-back scoring drives in Wayland Baptist territory thanks to Woods' interception and a Pioneers punt that was caught by the wind and traveled just five yards.
Wayland Baptist was led by freshman quarterback Payson Bain, who threw for 185 yards but was intercepted four times.