LINCOLN, Neb. — Paul Mierkiewicz says it’s an on-going process.
Last year it was just about survival for his McPherson College football team, which finished 0-10 and didn’t play any team within double digits.
After a productive offseason in recruiting, the first goal of the 2016 process was to be competitive.
Consider that accomplished in Week 1.
Now it’s on to the next stage of the process.
“We’ve got to learn how to win,” Mierkiewicz said after his Bulldogs put a mighty scare into Nebraska Wesleyan in their season opener Saturday that finished in the rain, 34-29.
The Bulldogs and Prairie Wolves were tied at 17-all at halftime, but 17 unanswered points by the hosts pushed the lead to 34-17.
Mac, though, scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull within 34-29, but couldn’t get the stops it needed to pull off the upset.
The Bulldogs, who needed half of the 2015 season to score 29 points, won the total offense battle 409-355, but a couple of costly turnovers led to 14 Wesleyan points.
There were a lot of bright spots for Mac. New quarterback Ed Crouch threw for 210 yards and ran for 56 more. Tyrone Campbell ran for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns, one on a pass from Crouch. Eman McNeil totaled 77 yards on two catches.
Also scoring for Mac were Zack Melius and Jackson Goodmiller, Melius, who had 66 yards rushing all in the fourth quarter, scored on a 9-yard run and Goodmiller caught a 16-yard TD grab. Caleb Contreras added a 34-yard field goal.
Defensively, Ashton Serpas had 13 solo tackles, 14 in all. McPherson High grad Travis Steenson was in on 12, eight of them solo.
The Bulldogs will try to earn the first win under Mierkiewicz on Saturday when they travel to Iowa to take on Dordt.
• MAC LEADERS •
Rushing — Campbell 20-78, Crouch 15-56, Melius 11-66
Passing — Crouch 11-19-0-210
Receiving — Goodmiller 4-49, McNeal 2-77, Schmidt 2-46, Campbell 2-15