McPherson College’s football team has spent this week receiving a lot of pats on the backs and congratulatory salutations around campus.
The Bulldogs ended a 12-game losing streak that dated back to the last game of the 2014 season last Saturday with a spine-tingling 27-20 victory over Southwestern in what was the KCAC opener for both teams.
But the Bulldogs can’t rest on their laurels as they return to action Saturday night with their third road game in four outings as they head to North Newton to take on Bethel College, itself a 26-9 road winner over Bethany in its conference opener.
Game time is 7 p.m. Tune in to 96.7 KBBE-FM at 6:45 for the pre-game with Voice of the Bulldogs Matt Cole.
Few KCAC insiders would have imagined that this game will leave the winner in some form of tie for first place. Mac is 1-2 overall and Bethel is 1-1.
The biggest obstacle for coach Paul Mierkiewicz, who also posted his first Bulldog win, is getting his team’s feet back on the ground.
“We kind of got past that on Tuesday, hopefully, when we got back on the field,” Mierkiewicz said. “The weather has really pushed us this week. It’s been hot and we’ve had to work hard to get through it. The guys have done a good job with it.”
The Bulldogs and Threshers appear to be relatively even. Mac accumulated more than 200 yards both on the ground and through the air last week, with quarterback Ed Crouch having a huge game. He ran for 148 yards and threw for 209 and four scores, while Tyrone Campbell pounded out 88 yards rushing and caught a TD pass.
Travis Steenson led the defense with 12 tackles as he has been a model of consistency at linebacker with three straight games of double-digit tackles.
Bethel will provide a lot of problems. Whereas the Bulldogs have tried to build through recruiting the high school ranks, the Threshers have leaned on a heavy influx of juco transfers.
They have especially gifted players in the skill positions. Quarterback Matt Jones has been outstanding in his first year after attending Coffeyville Community College. Running back Jaylen Sykes is one of the KCAC’s best, as he has built on his fine 2015 season with an even better start, punishing Bethany for 167 yards on 26 carries. TyShawn Simon added 70 yards, while Marquis Jackson is one of the KCAC’s top wide receivers. Defensively, Rickey Rodriguez and Davonte Singleton had outstanding games last week as the Thresher defense caused some key Swede turnovers to keep them out of the end zone.
“They are extremely athletic,” Mierkiewicz said. “It’s going to be an interesting matchup. We’ve got to find ways to slow them down because I think they want to run the football. They really have the ability to drive the football. I was really impressed with how our defense played last week in the last three quarters.”
• KCAC STANDINGS •
Sterling, 1-0 (2-0)
Saint Mary, 1-0 (2-1)
Bethel, 1-0 (1-1)
Tabor, 1-0 (1-1)
McPherson College, 1-0, (1-2)
Kansas Wesleyan, 0-1 (2-1)
Friends, 0-1 (0-2)
Southwestern, 0-1 (0-2)
Ottawa, 0-1, (0-3)
Bethany, 0-1 (0-3)
• Saturday’s Games •
McPherson College at Bethel
Bethany at Ottawa
Tabor at Saint Mary
Sterling at Friends
Southwestern at Kansas Wesleyan