This time the McPherson High starters played one half, plus 5 minutes more.
But not by choice.
With impending bad weather and tornado warnings issued, the Bullpups’ homecoming football game with Rose Hill here Friday was called with 7:01 left in the third quarter and the Rockets probably didn’t mind it at all.
That’s because the Bullpups had constructed a 35-0 lead and there was no way the Rockets had any chance of making a dent. Last week the MHS starters played only a half in a 62-0 blanking of Circle.
“I figured there was a good reason (for the game to be stopped),” said MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, whose team finished the pre-district portion of the schedule with a 5-1 record, the only loss a 9-0 decision at Maize South in Week 2. “I would have loved to have played some more football. There were a lot of guys we wanted to get some reps tonight. We weren’t as crisp as what we wanted to be and that made the difference in terms of getting some of those young kids in.”
Just as last week, the Bullpups scored quickly to open the game as Mason Thrash caught a 5-yard flip from Kyler Hoppes, then the MHS defense was put on its heels as the Rockets accumulated six first downs in pounding right down the field, only to be stopped at the MHS 10.
“Their quarterback (Nolan Ast) is a stud,” Pavlovich said. “He’s a very good football player and they’ve got a great scheme over there... but our guys did settle in and we went into our odd-front stuff to kind of try to muddy up some of the pass-run reads... we really like our odd front and it’s a tribute to our kids, those guys understand what we’re trying to do and it shows out there on the field.”
And also just like last week, the Bullpups dominated from there.
They scored three times in the final 4 minutes of the first half for a 29-0 lead, then scored on their first possession of the second half when the game was halted.
Hoppes flipped his second touchdown pass of 2 yards to Ben Nikkel to make it 14-0, then after a short Rocket punt, the Bullpups zipped 26 yards with Hoppes running it in from the 13. The snap was bad on the PAT, but holder Drew Labertew scooped it up and found Thomas Diggs for a 2-pointer and 22-0 lead.
Moments later, Jayse Alexander came up with a fumble recovery — his second big turnover in as many weeks — and Hoppes found Talyn Huff from 10 yards for a 29-0 lead.
After Elle Barrett was crowned homecoming queen and Ryan Ronsse was the king, MHS held the Rockets on the first series, then scored on the game’s final play, a 17-yard pass from Hoppes to Gabe Hoover.
Hoppes was a pinpoint 15 of 18 for 125 yards and employed seven different receivers. Huff was tops with 4 catches for 42 yards, while Hoover was 3 for 31 and Wiard had 3 for 25.
Jace Kinnamon ran for 74 yards, all in the first half, on 12 carries. Hoppes ran only 3 times, but had 38 yards. Because of the short game, the Bullpups had only 126 yards on the ground for 251 total.
Rose Hill was held to just 6 yards rushing and had 48 yards through the air for 54 total yards.
MHS now heads to Hays for its fifth road game in seven weeks. Hays could very well be the best team in the district and the Bullpups want to run the district table so they can host a first-round playoff game.
“We really like the way our team is playing,” Pavlovich said. “We’re healthy, which is fantastic. I know our guys are excited. We’ve got quite a few of our guys getting recruited by Fort Hays and coach (Chris) Brown is going to be there with two of his sons playing. We’re looking forward to that matchup next week.”