McPherson College’s Bulldogs continued to be the masters of the moral victory.
In what is becoming a season-long heartbreak, the Bulldogs had a chance to win their homecoming football game in the final 2 minutes on Saturday, but Friends held them off for a 21-19 victory.
Mac is now 1-4 in the KCAC, three of the losses by a total of eight points. They had lost two earlier games by a field goal to Bethel and Ottawa, respectively. They also have a five-point non-conference loss to their credit.
“Lot of emotions right now,” a dejected Mac coach Paul Mierkiewicz said. “We didn’t play very well offensively until the fourth (quarter). We didn’t have the ball very much. ”
Mac was down 14-0 going into the fourth quarter as Friends’ Jesse Rogers-led offense controlled the clock. Rogers wound up carrying 41 times for 182 yards, though Mac did keep him out of the end zone. The Falcons were amazingly efficient on third and fourth down as they converted time and again to keep drives going to keep the Mac offense off the field.
With a strong wind at their back, the Bulldogs finally started to get things cranking in the final period as they scored all 19 of their points. They cut into the lead on a 17-yard TD strike from Ed Crouch to Tyrone Campbell, but the PAT was blocked, a season-long problem this year, which left the score at 14-6.
The Bulldogs pulled within 14-12 as Crouch again went up top, hitting Anthony Schmidt for a 27-yard tally. The try for 2 failed.
Perhaps the backbreaker came on Friends’ next series. It had a 4th-and-10 from its own 25 and quarterback Brett Darling threw a jump ball into the end zone that was pulled down by teammate Glen Whisbey to make it 21-12 with 6:34 left in the game.
Mac had one last bullet to fire. A 47-yard pass from Crouch to Campbell set up a 3-yard run by Crouch to make it 21-19 as Travis Steenson came on for the PAT. That came with 2:07 left in the game and the Bulldogs excited the homecoming crowd when Kavoderic McIntyre recovered on the onside kick.
But the Bulldogs could do nothing and turned the ball over as the Falcons then ran out the clock.
Steenson had an amazing game for the Bulldogs with seven solo tackles and 17 assists. Braden Bush was in on 16 tackles with five solos and 11 assists. Dalton Whitfield had six solos and nine assists.
Steenson’s performance didn’t go unnoticed.
“We knew we had a special player coming in,” Mierkiewicz said. “He obviously leads our defense. He doesn’t say much, but he gets out there and does the things you ask him to do.”
Campbell had a big game offensively for the Bulldogs, as he rushed for 123 yards and caught passes totaling 75. Crouch, though, was held to 34 yards as he was the focus of the Falcon defense.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and put together a game plan for next week,” said Mierkiewicz, whose team hosts Saint Mary at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs are 1-6 overall.