EL DORADO — It was about as blue as blue collar can get.
McPherson High’s gritty football team rolled up its sleeves, brought its lunch pails and methodically pounded out a 21-7 victory over El Dorado on Friday for its first winning streak of the season.
MHS, which was without three key starters, is now 2-1 in AVCTL Division II and 3-2 overall as it wraps up pre-district play on Friday by making the long trip to Winfield.
“It was a good night for us,” said MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, as he saw all three phases of the game contribute to the victory.
The offense kept the ball for long stretches at a time, though it produced only two scores. The defense dominated, as the Wildcats were kept off the board until the game’s waning moments, while Jack Reifschneider’s 78-yard punt return for a touchdown was the play that changed the complexion of the game in the second quarter.
“We felt very good about our punt return team going into it,” Pavlovich said. “We chose not to block (the kick) this week because we felt we could get a very good return. They kept their offensive line in to protect on the punt, so we knew with Jack back there he was going to bust a big one for us.”
Noah Jirgens, who had a 6-yard TD run in the second half that made it 21-0, rolled off his fourth 100-yard game in five weeks with 114 yards on 22 carries, while Austen Hunt provided a nice change of pace with 78 slashing yards on 20 carries. He also found the end zone, as his 6-yard run in the second quarter was the game’s opening touchdown.
“Both guys are really running the ball well,” Pavlovich said. “Again, we’ve got to get that big play. We’re missing that big play that we’ve had in the past.”
Jirgens did break off one run of 30 yards and Hunt had a couple of carries in double digits. Casen Hoover threw enough to keep the Wildcats honest, completing 8 of 12 for 120 yards, with Mikey Saverino having a good night with three catches for 84 yards, while Jeff Reed also had three catches.
It was a second straight powerful performance for the defense. Sophomore Jayse Alexander roamed sideline to slideline wreaking havoc and El Dorado was held to just 204 total yards, most of that coming on about four plays.
“That’s the kind of team we are this year. We’re a team that plays great defense,” Pavlovich said. “Jayse is tremendous. We knew he was a special kid. He’s leading the team in tackles. He’s all over the place and he’s a great leader for a sophomore.”
• STATISTICS •
MHS Listed First
First Downs — 16, 8. Rushes-Yards — 53-189; 25-105. Passing — 8-12-1-120; 11-21-0-99. Punts-Avg. — 0-0; 6-30-2. Fumbles-Lost — 1-1; 1-0. Penalties — 7-53; 11-76.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
MHS — Jirgens 22-114 Hunt 20-78, Kynaston 3-0, Hoover 6-(-2).
El Dorado — Morrow 13-55, Fowler 9-43, Melugin 1-4, Hughey 1-4.
MHS — Hoover 8-12-1-120.
El Dorado — Morrow 11-21-0-99.
MHS — Saverino 3-84, Reed 3-30, Reifschneider 1-8, Cheek 1-(-2).
El Dorado — Melugin 3-25, Fowler 2-12, Motter 2-10, Triboletti 1-23, Bryant 1-18, Hughey 1-6, Hutson 1-5.