Ex-Comet Austin Early having huge NAIA season in Kansas conference

Former Comet Austin Early accounted for seven touchdowns on Sept. 22.
Former Comet Austin Early accounted for seven touchdowns on Sept. 22.

WINFIELD, Kansas (10-14-2018) --  Quarterback Austin Early, the son of Palomar football coach Joe Early who was selected by his teammates as the Comets' Most Valuable Player in 2015, is back in the news as the record-setting starter for Southwestern College of the NAIA's Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Early set a school record for passing yardage when he threw for 456 yards and six touchdowns and tacked on 96 yards rushing and a seventh TD in the Moundbuilders' 52-7 victory over visiting Bethany on Sept. 22 at home in Winfield, KS.

He was honored as KCAC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.

Early, who had been injured in the pre-season, entered Southwestern's 2018 opener and passed for a 49-yard touchdown in the Moundbuilders' season opener, a 76-14 win over Graceland University of Iowa.

He then missed two games due to injury before returning to complete 21-of-36 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns in as 45-35 conference loss at McPherson on Sept. 15.

Early came back the following week with his seven-touchdown performance in the win over Bethany, then passed for 280 yards and three touchdowns the following Saturday while adding 47 rushing yards in the Moundbuilders' 51-49 victory over RV Avila.

In that three-game span, Early threw for 1,060 yards and 11 TDs.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, the Moundbuilders defeated traditional KCAC power Tabor College on the road while primarily keeping the ball on the ground. Early passed for 92 yards in that game.

Southwestern is 5-2 on the season and 4-2 in conference as the Moundbuilders coming off a bye this past Saturday, while preparing for a 1:30 p.m. Central Time match-up with Bethel College back in Winfield this upcoming Saturday, on Oct. 20.

Southwestern College of Kansas has fielded a football team for 115 years, beginning in 1903, when the Moundbuiders played 14 games in their first season, winning nine games and losing five.

In the 2015 season at Palomar, Early completed 134 of 235 passes, a .570 percentage, for 1,548 yards and 10 touchdowns. He broke into the Comets' starting lineup in their fourth game of the season, a victory over Grossmont, and completed 30-of-47 pass attempts for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns.

In his six games as the Comets' quarterback starter, Early threw for 1,386 yards and all 10 of his touchdowns and was voted as Palomar's team MVP by his teammates.

His 35 completions (for 353 yards and 3 TDs) vs. Golden West on Haloween night 2015 ranks him third on the all-time Palomar single-game list, trailing only Scott Barrick (40 completions vs. Southwestern in 1989) and Tyler Lorenzen,  (37 completions vs. then nationally No. 1-ranked Saddleback in a 2006 state playoff game).

Lorenzen went on to become the Big East's first-team all-conference quarterback at the University of Connecticut and moved on to the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints where he was a member of the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV championship team.