The McPherson High football team that had been trumpeted so loudly before the season has finally arrived.
A swarming defense and an air raid offense combined efforts here Friday as the Bullpups overwhelmed previously undefeated Augusta by handing the Orioles a crushing 41-0 defeat before an appreciative full house at McPherson Stadium.
The Bullpups, exploding to a 32-0 halftime lead, evened their record at 2-2 with their second straight shutout and displayed a ferocity that they had not played with in the first three games. They had the Orioles back on their heels from the get-go as their defense actually outscored the Orioles’ offense with a touchdown and safety.
"There's two things I told the kids after the game," MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said. "We were incredibly physical and you could tell right off the bat by our body language our kids were more physical right after play one. That led to all of the execution you saw tonight. Our kids, when we needed to make a play, they did."
The game turned early when Caleb Spaich picked off a pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown, which pushed MHS’ lead to 14-0 before the first quarter was over. The defense later recorded a second-half safety by Luke Koehn.
Offensively, the Bullpups’ passing game came of age as Casen Hoover threw for 237 yards and four touchdowns, three of those to sophomore Gabe Hoover, as "Hoover Squared" was an unstoppable combination.
"It was a breakout night for him (Gabe Hoover) for the rest of the world, but we knew what he could do," Pavlovich said. "Now that he's healthy it's great to have him at our disposal. I told Jack (Reifschneider) and Gabe two weeks ago that we've got to find a way to get you on the field."
Casen Hoover’s other TD pass was to Jeff Reed and he even made plays with his legs as he accounted for a fifth score with a one-yard run, and tossed in a 2-point run for good measure.
Andrew Powell provided a nice complement with 101 yards on nine darting carries as he displayed tremendous cutting ability and showcased the talent to make defenders miss.
"You just can't get a good hit on him," Pavlovich said. "He's done a tremendous job. Andrew just gives us that other gear and we noticed it in practice."
MHS totaled 444 yards and gave up only 167, but through three quarters the Orioles barely had 100. Heralded Augusta running back Luke Dockers, who had nearly 200 yards last week, had only 13 through three quarters before finishing with 32.
MHS is back home on Friday to host Circle in the annual homecoming game.
• STATS •
MHS Listed First
First Downs — 16, 8. Rushes-Yards – 31-199; 34-86. Passing — 14-23-0-245; 7-16-2-81. Punts-Avg. — 1-46.0; 3-42.0. Fumbles-Lost — 0-0; 4-2. Penalties-Yards — 7-85; 5-43.
• LEADERS •
• Rushing •
MHS — Powell 9-101, Kinnamon 6-37, C. Hoover 8-35, Hoppes 2-30, Reifschneider 1-5, Stites 3-4.
Augusta — Whitehead 13-52, Dockers 11-32, Jackson 6-9, Rocheford 4-(-7).
• Passing •
MHS — C. Hoover 12-21-0-237, Hoppes 2-2-0-8.
Augusta — Whitehead 7-16-2-81.
• Receiving •
MHS — G. Hoover 5-71, Reed 2-86, Diggs 2-34, Reifschneider 2-19, Huff 2-8, Seidl 1-27.
Augusta — Jackson 4-49, Dockers 3-32.