McPherson High’s fears of a letdown were confirmed on Circle’s second play of the game here Friday.
Coming off easily their best performance of the season to hand previously undefeated Augusta its first loss and playing a Circle team that had won only once in its past 39 games, the Bullpups were expected to thrill the sellout homecoming crowd with an easy victory.
They stormed down the field on their first possession as they gobbled up 72 yards in less than 2 minutes to take a 7-0 lead.
However just a minute later, the T-Birds’ Lane Coulter silenced the whooping as he sped 57 yards for a touchdown to pull them within 7-6, but the Bullpups then went from letdown to no letup as they dominated the rest of the game for a 35-6 victory, their third in a row after starting with two defeats.
MHS sprinted to a 28-6 halftime lead with sharp play, then seemed to flatten out offensively in the second half with just one score. But the defense was a constant, except for a few big plays that resulted in no point damage.
"We need to enjoy it tonight. We have some things we need to address tomorrow morning," a moderately pleased MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said. "But we'll get that done and we'll get better."
The T-Birds, to their credit, put up a good fight, but simply didn't have the weapons that MHS possessed.
"They play hard… we had talked about going into it how tough of a game this was going to be," Pavlovich said. "That's not a bad team. They play hard and have good schemes. They put seven in the box (defensively) and we've got to be able to throw out of it. We were catching balls in the first quarter and the rest of the game we were dropping some balls. Casen (Hoover) put the ball on the money and we just dropped some balls. We catch two or three of those and it's a different atmosphere."
The T-Birds simply had no answer for the Bullpups’ passing game in the first half as Hoover threw for four touchdowns and finished with 192 yards for the game, as he was 9 of 21. Jeff Reed was the big-play receiver with 101 yards on just three catches, two of them for touchdowns. Jack Reifschneider and Wyatt Seidl also caught touchdowns before intermission, while Tyson Stites accounted for the only second-half scoring with a 2-yard run. He also returned to his PAT duties, drilling 5 of 5.
Complementing the passing was the running of the elusive Andrew Powell, who cobbled together his second straight 100-yard-plus game with 117 yards on 24 carries. MHS had the balance Pavlovich strives for with 212 yards on the ground and 192 through the air.
Take away a couple of big plays and the MHS defense — playing without standouts Dylan Baldwin and Jayse Alexander as they were held out for precautionary reasons — allowed little, though it missed its goal of a third straight shutout.
The Bullpups complete the pre-district portion of the schedule on Friday as they make only their second road trip of the year as they head to Rose Hill.
• STATS •
• MHS Listed First •
First Downs — 21, 10. Rushing-Yards — 38-212; 47-197. Passing — 9-21-1-192; 7-12-0-59. Punts-Avg. — 0-0; 4-30.8. Fumbles-Lost — 1-1, 3-1. Penalties-Yards — 4-55; 9-86.
• LEADERS •
• Rushing •
MHS — Powell 24-117, Stites 8-47, Reifschneider 1-30, Hoover 3-29, Saverino 1-(-6).
Circle — Coulter 19-110, Henderson 22-49, Ingrim 4-32, Falkner 1-5, Clark 1-1.
• Passing •
MHS — Hoover 9-21-1-192.
Circle — Coulter 7-12-0-59.
• Receiving •
MHS — Reed 3-101, Reifschneider 4-84, Seidl 1-7, Arbuckle 1-0.
Circle — Leis 4-50, Wiggins 1-6, Cross 1-6, Henderson 1-(-3).