After the Texas Wesleyan Rams lost their first game of the 2017 season to the McPherson Bulldogs, head coach Joe Prud’homme was asked what the team needs to work on.
His answer was succinct.
“Everything,” Prud’homme said shortly after the 43-14 loss in Kansas on Saturday. “A lot of plays we normally make in practice just weren’t there. I think nerves had something to do with it.”
The Rams did not really start to play well until the fourth quarter, but in the first half they had “just too many mistakes” to recover from, Prud’homme said.
The team scored both of its touchdowns in the fourth quarter. First, receiver Erik Richards ran 28 yards after catching a Kane Hardin pass. A few minutes later, Hardin hit receiver Donovan Davidson across the middle on an 82-yard play for the second touchdown.
“Amazing,” Hardin said. “There’s no words to describe it. It was awesome the way it played out. Erik Richards was the receiver that caught it and if there was a guy to deserve that first touchdown, it’s him.”
Hardin said he is ready to be back in Fort Worth practicing and gaining experience with the team. Prud’homme said the team will be practicing at 6 a.m. Tuesday at the Polytechnic High School field.
Most of McPherson’s roster carries juniors and seniors. Almost all their starters are upperclassmen. Wesleyan’s roster holds mostly freshmen and redshirt freshmen with a few sophomores and juniors.
“We just need to keep doing the things we’re doing and perfect our craft.” Hardin said. “We kind of beat ourselves at times on Saturday. I don’t think nerves really affected it. Our guys were ready to go. We just need to execute better.”
The first half of the game was rough for the Rams but they played more cohesively in the second half, said linebacker Vincent Stephenson.
“As a team, we all need to become more disciplined,” Stephenson said, “and stick to the assignments the coaches give us. We had a lot of good plays, they were just scattered. On defense, we continued to fight even when our backs were against the wall. The defense really came together in the second half.”
Every member of the team gave it their all and the coaches called plays that put the players in good situations, he said.
“The coaches made calls that put me in the position to make plays,” Stephenson said, “and I made as many as I could.”
The Rams want to show Wesleyan fans that the first game isn’t the defining moment of their season, Stephenson said.
“I think nerves played a small role in the game today,” Stephenson said, “but that happens in any team’s first game of the season. I don’t think nerves are what did it though, I think we beat ourselves.”
The team is ready to practice and prepare for Saturday’s home opener against Millsaps College now that they’ve gotten the first game under their belt, said running back Jermarcus Jones.
“It’s been 76 years since Texas Wesleyan has had a team, so I feel there were some nerves because we wanted to do good,” Jones said.
The team held its composure and kept fighting even when the game got difficult, Jones said.
“When we didn’t have blown plays, we executed well,” Jones said. “We need to work on our snaps and eliminating penalties. If we do that, we put ourselves in a great position to win.”
Jones said he had some good plays, and with a little more practice he’ll be ready to lead the Rams to a victory.
“It’s a lot of things I could’ve done better,” Jones said. “I have to come out strong in practice next week to improve my performance for next week. I hope we can move past this and put on a show,” Jones said, “and show what Texas Wesleyan Football really is all about.”
The Rams’ home opener is 2 p.m. Saturday; the team takes on the Millsaps College Majors at Farrington Field, which is at the corner of University and 7th Street. Tickets are available at ramsports.net and are $10 general admission, $5 for faculty, staff and children under 12.