McPherson College’s youthful Bulldogs were going toe-to-toe with No. 14-ranked Kansas Wesleyan here Saturday night, trailing only 28-25 with 12 minutes left in the game.
But the Coyotes’ experience, depth and size finally wore down the determined ‘Dogs as they scored on three straight possessions for a somewhat deceiving 49-25 victory before a loud-and-appreciative McPherson Stadium crowd.
The shootout featured some dizzying numbers, as the Bulldogs lost despite running 92 plays and piling up 492 yards. But KW had 572 as both offenses gained momentum as the game unfolded.
Special teams hurt the Bulldogs, as they had two field goals blocked and two extra points missed, not to mention KW’s return game set up some short scoring drives.
“I’m proud of our football team,” said Mac coach Paul Mierkiewicz as the Bulldogs slid to 1-2 in the KCAC and 1-4 overall. “I think our kids stayed together and played hard. Give Kansas Wesleyan the credit. I think defensively we started to get tired. They really started to wear us down there at the end.”
The Bulldogs trailed 21-7 at the half, their only score a 54-yard TD pass from Ed Crouch to Justin Fagan. A Coyote touchdown with 58 seconds left in the half made it a two-score game.
But the Bulldogs made a game of it by scoring 12 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull within 21-19. Crouch lofted a 12-yard TD pass to Anthony Schmidt and then threw a 27-yard dart to Fagan for his second touchdown.
After a LonDarius Thomas touchdown gave KW a 28-19 lead, Crouch sprinted 13 yards to pull the Bulldogs within 28-25 early in the fourth quarter.
Clearly, though, the Coyotes’ backfield depth and huge offensive line started to wear on the Bulldogs and they were physically spent by the end of the game.
Crouch again provided some magical moments. After being limited to 16 yards rushing in the first half, he displayed his athleticism in the second half and finished with 138 yards on 24 carries. Sledgehammer Tyrone Campell got the tough yards inside and finished with 101 yards on 23 carries.
Crouch was 14 of 32 for 215 yards, but was sacked four times.
KW had many more players involved as nine backs ran the ball and quarterback Wesley Geisler had 16 completions to nine different receivers.
Flashy backs Thomas and Demarco Prewitt scored two rushing touchdowns apiece and Geisler added a TD run. He also had a pair of 66-yard TD passes to Jacob Tagte and Mitch Kufahl.
As has been the case most of the year, Travis Steenson led Mac in tackles with 16, while Michael Rabara had seven solo tackles among his 11 total. Chandler Tisby had seven tackles, three of which were behind the line of scrimmage.
Mac goes on the road Saturday to Ottawa.
• STATS •
• Mac Listed First •
First Downs — 30, 21. Rushes-Yards — 53-243; 52-299. Passing — 19-37-1-249; 16-25-0-273. Punts-Avg. — 4-41.5; 5-30.0. Penalties-Yards — 9-88, 6-56. Fumbles-Lost — 1-1, 2-1.
• LEADERS •
• Rushing •
Mac — Crouch 24-138, Campbell 23-101, Melius 4-12, Wolters 1-1, Giron 1-(-9).
KW — Thomas 10-86, Prewitt 16-71, Davis 3-63, Geisler 13-48, Evans 4-32, Donohue 1-5, Welch 1-2, Tatge 1-0, Alexancer 3-(-6).
• Passing •
Mac — Crouch 14-32-1-214, Giron 3-7-0-34.
KW — Geisler 16-25,0-273.
• Receiving •
Mac — Goodmiller 5-41, Fagan 4-105, McNeal 2-54, Schmidt 2-25, Campbell 2-17, Wolters 1-7, Melius 1-0.
KW — Prewitt 4-36, Tatge 3-90, Kufahl 2-72, Thomas 2-2, Welch 1-38, Davis 1-15, Evans 1-13, Donohue 1-11, Rizzo-Foden 1-(-4).