ROSE HILL — It was Honestee Whittker or bust at running back on Friday for McPherson High against Rose Hill.
The Bullpup sophomore was handed the responsibility of carrying the Bullpups’ running game as injuries sidelined the glut of backs ahead of him.
Whittker delivered in a big way with 25 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns as the Bullpups broke open a close game with a 29-0 second-half run for a 44-8 victory.
“He was our No. 6 (running back) going into summer camp,” MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said. “He stuck with it and continued to get better and better. I say No. 6, but he wasn’t far off all the way along. Tailback is a position where we’re fortunate that we have a lot of depth and you saw that tonight.”
Andrew Powell and Tyson Stites missed the game after being injured in practice on Wednesday. Jace Kinnamon was injured in the JV game on Monday. And, don’t forget, expected No. 1 Austen Hunt will not play a down this year after being injured over the summer.
It was MHS’ fourth win in a row after starting the year 0-2. The Bullpups open district play at home on Friday when Hays comes to town.
After Whittker scored MHS’ first touchdown on an 11-yard slash, Rose Hill took an 8-7 lead on a Bradly McAllister run in the second quarter and a busted 2-point conversion.
From there, it was all Bullpups.
Casen Hoover ran for a score and threw three more touchdown passes, two of them to Jeff Reed of 80 and 3 yards. Thomas Diggs snagged a 17-yarder for a score and Whittker added his second TD run during the blitz.
“We knew Rose Hill wasn’t deep, but what they had was pretty good,” Pavlovich said. “We knew it was going to take a four-quarter effort to get it done tonight. I wasn’t surprised we struggled tonight early.”
Hoover was pinpoint, completing 12 of 14 for 184 yards. Reed snagged five for 108 yards and Jack Reifschneider had four catches for 52 yards.
MHS’ defense, which gave up 157 yards in the first half as the Rockets had no trouble moving the ball, was suffocating in the second half, giving up just 40 yards on 21 plays.
“Coach (Chet) Harlin made a few schematic adjustments,” Pavlovich said. “Really, we had uncharacteristic missed tackles. You look at at the first half and most of the yardage they had came after contact.”
MHS may have found a kicker as Drew Labertew was 4 for 4 on PATs and kicked the ball deep consistently. MHS actually added a pair of 2-pointers, one a Hoover pass to Wyatt Seidl and the other a Hoover flip to Diggs.
• STATS •
• MHS Listed First •
First Downs — 16, 13. Rushes-Yards — 34-130; 36-84. Passing — 12-15-1-184; 14-19-0-113. Punts-Avg. — 4-40.0; 7-27.4. Penalties-Yards — 2-20, 4-36. Fumbles-Lost — 0-0, 1-1.
• LEADERS •
• Rushing •
MHS — Whittker 25-99, C. Hoover 5-24, Feil 4-7.
Rose Hill — McAllister, 18-66, Carney 9-39, Moore 9-(-21).
• Passing •
MHS — C. Hoover 12-14-0-184, Reifschneider 0-1-1-0;
Rose Hill — Moore 14-19-0-113.
• Receiving •
MHS — Reed 5-108, Reifschneider 4-52, G. Hoover 2-7, Diggs 1-17.
Rose Hill — McBride 8-87, Sapp 3-14, Carney 3-12.