Monday morning quarterback...
• WHAT A GAME — I mentioned it in my game story on Friday, but it needs to be reiterated.
McPherson High’s 21-20 come-from-behind playoff victory over Andale at McPherson Stadium was the kind of game in the past that the Bullpups would have found a way to lose.
“Maybe this will get us over that barrier,” said MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, who has been part of the Bullpups’ sometimes heart-breaking playoff losses of the past, including that legendary game at Holton where MHS lost to the eventual state champions in the last minute.
The Bullpups showed no panic on their final drive. Down 20-18 with 3:07 left, senior quarterback Casen Hoover coolly drove his team down the field, with the key moment a 31-yard swing pass to Jace Kinnamon on a play Pavlovich said was put in just this last week. The sophomore battering ram displayed some nimble feet while going down the sideline and as usual it took more than one tackler to bring him down.
The Bullpups even overcame what could have been a devastating personal foul on the Andale 4, but in the end Drew Labertew blocked everything out and drilled a no-doubt-about-it 27-yard field goal with 13 seconds left to give MHS the win.
This game had it all. Great offense, great defense (don’t forget MHS’ goal-line stand early in the game that could have been forgotten by some) and two evenly matched teams that should have advanced on, but one of them sadly had to go home.
I can’t emphasize any more how impressed I was with the running of Hoover and Kinnamon. I had never seen Hoover run with more conviction, while Kinnamon has been a late-season revelation, starting the final two games because of injuries only to rush for 123 yards against Abilene and 141 yards against Andale. To think, he at one time was going to be an offensive lineman because of injuries.
The unsung all-senior offensive line of Clayton Gerbrandt, Jared Ruth, Dylan Baldwin, Raine Reistma and Britton Bate deserves huge props. They have gotten better every week and you could tell they wanted Pavlovich to keep pounding the rock right at the heart of the Andale defense because they were winning the battle of wills.
The MHS defense, after looking shaky early, got caught up to speed and played tremendous when it had to. Andale is an incredibly efficient team with serious wheels. But MHS only allowed a couple of big plays and has been one of the best units in Bullpup history.
Now comes Maize South, which defeated MHS 14-6 in Week 2. That was the "lightning game" that was delayed three times and was 90 minutes late in getting started. Both teams seemed affected as the offenses were out of kilter all night. MHS gave up just 235 yards in that game and the Mavericks had only one good drive. The MHS offense totaled only 228 yards and its passing game stalled.
Both teams certainly have improved since then, but I have a feeling the Bullpups have made bigger strides. South is a big, physical team, but I know the Bullpups have been chomping for another chance because they felt like that was a game they let get way.
• GOOD EFFORT BY 'DOGS — As has often been the case this year, McPherson College put up a good fight against a great team.
The 44-31 road loss to No. 15 Sterling on Saturday was one of those games where you felt like Sterling was always in control, but then Mac scored 21 straight points to shave a 24-point lead to 3 and the thought of an upset did enter my mind.
Sterling, though, closed out strong. Once again, Mac's serious lack of depth and overall team speed came into play.
Bulldog quarterback Ed Crouch is one of the most amazing athletes ever to play at Mac. He's a bigger version of Turtle James, a dynamic quarterback from about 20 years ago. Crouch was able to buy time with his legs as he time and again eluded defenders and kept coming back for more even when he would take a big shot.
The Bulldogs have only one win this year, but only in two games have they lost by more than two touchdowns. If coach Paul Mierkiewicz can find some speed to go with Crouch, he could have an exciting offense next year.
Bethany invades McPherson Stadium on Saturday. The teams are tied for the bottom of the KCAC along with Southwestern and the winner of the county clash could end up in eighth place. That may not sound like much to some, but given how the Bulldogs weren't even competitive last year a victory would be a step in the right direction.
• KSU GAVE ONE AWAY — Kansas State had a big fish on the end of the line, but couldn't reel it in.
The Wildcats blew a 13-point lead to nationally ranked Oklahoma State at "The Bill," where the team normally has enough magic to close out the game.
Kansas State did a great job of running the ball. Jesse Ertz is one of the best running quarterbacks in the country.
But the much-heralded Kansas State defense was torched again. It gave up a lot of chunk plays, something you don't see from a Snyder-coached team.
Given how much Baylor has struggled recently, the Wildcats still have a chance to run the table as they also play KU and TCU. An 8-4 record and 6-3 Big 12 mark is about what I had this team pegged, though I thought 9-3 and 7-2 was a possibility.
• KU SCORE MISLEADING — The final score against West Virginia Saturday read 48-21, but the game was nowhere near that close.
The Kansas offense received a spark from back-up quarterback Carter Stanley, but most of the yards and points came in garbage time when the outcome had been long decided. The KU offensive line continues to be overmatched as it simply doesn't have size or strength.
This game was determined on the opening kickoff. KU kicks it out of the end zone, but the Jayhawks get called for, of all things, taunting. I don't think I've ever seen that in all my years of watching football and that is about 50.
If I played for a team that had lost 39 road games in a row going in and is one of the five worst NCAA Division I teams in the country, I don't think I'd be talking smack. What a numbskull play and an indicator of the night.
• CHIEFS DESERVED TO LOSE — The Kansas City Chiefs escaped with a 19-14 victory over Jacksonville Sunday, finishing the game without four of its top offensive players.
Alex Smith and Spencer Ware never suited. Jeremy Maclin got hurt and Travis Kelce was kicked out after losing his mind about a non-call.
The defense was gashed time and again. The tackling of Marcus Peters and Ron Parker was elementary. Yet, the Chiefs forced enough turnovers to win the game.
Nick Foles was shaky, but give Jacksonville credit. The Jags shook the Chiefs' offensive line like a rag doll and Foles had little time to throw.
This is two games where I believe the Chiefs were beyond lucky to win, the other the season opener when they roared back to defeat San Diego.
The Chiefs have won four in a row, but here's a stinker alert — they're going to get hammered next week at Carolina.