Bulldogs face pass-happy Spires on Saturday

By Steve Sell
October 22, 2015

You can expect a long day of football on Saturday when McPherson College’s Bulldogs make the arduous journey to Leavenworth to play Saint Mary.

Not only is the trip never-ending, the game figuratively should be long since the Spires basically fill the air with footballs the moment they take the field.

Kickoff is 1:30 p.m., and don’t be surprised if this one takes 3 1/2 hours to complete.

In a conference where throwing the ball in no way resembles that of the Big 12, the Spires far and away have attempted more passes than any KCAC team. They have launched the pig 346 times, while Kansas Wesleyan is next, but 80 behind. The Spires are dead last in the conference in rushing, just ahead of the Bulldogs.

McPherson College, on the other hand, has thrown it only 133 times, though it has played one less game.

“They’re going to go as their quarterback (freshman Drew Cortez) goes,” McPherson coach Paul Mierkiewicz said. “That’s a tough thing to do sometimes with a first-year quarterback, but they’ve done some really nice things in the passing game. That’s been our focus this week, trying to contain him and what’s he’s going to do. They’re going to throw it, I don’t imagine them loading up and running the ball.”

The Bulldogs actually are sixth against the pass in the KCAC, but are ninth in yards rushing allowed. The Spires have the KCAC’s top receiver in Cole Williams (47 catches, 590 yards).

Mac enters the game 0-5 in the KCAC and 0-6 overall. It played its best half of the year last week against Friends, before the defense finally relented in a 45-5 loss. It was another offensive outage, as the Bulldogs have scored only three offensive touchdowns and a field goal in their six games as they are starting a handful of freshmen.

Saint Mary is 2-3 in the KCAC and 2-5 overall. The Spires’ best win came against Friends in their KCAC opener, a 27-14 victory. Their other conference win was a 52-50 shootout against Bethel, that accomplished on a last-minute field goal

“They look a lot like us at times with their youth, though they’ve had a little more success,” Mierkiewicz said. “They’re a young team and trying to find an identity. When you live or die by throwing the ball, you can have a huge day or how you do can be based on how one young man is playing.”