ANDALE — You’ll have a hard time convincing McPherson High football coach Jace Pavlovich that Andale has fallen off from last year’s Class 4A Division II state championship team.
Apparently last week’s 16-0 defeat to Buhler — its first loss to the Crusaders in 25 years — was nothing more than a blip.
The Indians, especially their defense, played like a team that is bent on making a return to the championship game with a thorough 29-8 no-doubter over Kansas’ Week 1 darling, McPherson High.
A late first-half score — a Taylor Richter 3-yard run with 9 seconds left — after an MHS fumble pushed the Andale lead to 17-0 and that basically decided the game.
“That hurt,” Pavlovich said. “But our kids came out and fought like crazy. But at the end of the day, we made quite a few mental mistakes that we did not do in Week 1. Ultimately that shakes down to be the difference.”
Earlier in the half, Andale had converted an interception into a 27-yard Layton Johnson field goal for a 3-0 lead and other score was a three-play, 63-yard drive that was punctuated by a 54-yard TD romp by Tristen Dagenais.
Andale took a 23-0 lead in the third quarter on a halfback pass from Matthew Maus to mountainous tight end Jeffery Ast, which came on a fourth-down play. Richter burned the MHS defense for an 87-yard sprint for the final score.
The Bullpups avoided the shutout with a nice fourth-quarter drive, with Taylor Kynaston scoring from the 1 as he now has two touchdowns on just two carries. Casen Hoover hit Luke Stucky for a 2-pointer.
The MHS offense, which executed so well last week, turned it over three times, but showed improvement as the game wore on. Noah Jirgens, coming off a 223-yard rushing game, finished with 137 on 27 carries, with 106 of those yards in the second half. Hoover made strides in the passing game with 123 yards, with Spenser Wine grabbing four for 56 yards.
“We knew they were going to blitz like crazy and we prepared for it all week and we also prepared for their Bear front,” Pavlovich said. “They covered up basically our interior three. We were able to get a pretty decent push, but we had some trouble maintaining our blocks on their linebackers. Again, it’s not a magical formula. If you can control the line of scrimmage and win the turnover battle, it’s a lock.”
MHS surrendered 345 yards on the ground as Andale’s offensive line fired off the ball like a well-oiled machine. It didn’t help the Bullpups that last week’s top tackler, Jack Reifschneider, played only one series before exiting with a back injury.
MHS will now try to regroup as it returns home Friday to take on Augusta. The Orioles’ game tonight in El Dorado was postponed to Sunday because of a threat reported by a student that could not be substantiated. Augusta had won its season opener against Wellington in Week 1.
• STATISTICS •
MHS Listed First
First Downs — 13, 11. Rushes-Yards — 35-111; 56-345. Passing — 9-19-1-123; 3-9-0-30. Punts-Avg. — 3-26.7; 3-31.0. Penalties-Yards — 4-30; 8-60. Fumbles-Lost — 2-1; 1-0.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
MHS — Jirgens 27-137, Kynaston 1-1, Cheek 1-(-7), Hoover 6-(-20).
Andale — Meyer 22-124, Richter 11-113, Dagenais 12-91, Stuever 5-14, Knoblauch 3-2.
MHS — Hoover 9-19-1-123.
Andale — Richter 2-6-0-25, Meyer 0-2-0-0, Maus 1-1-0-5.
MHS — Wine 4-56, Saverino 2-31, Cheek 2-19, Mendez 1-17.
Andale — Ast 3-30.