Andale’s sprinter-fast Hunter Knoblauch and Hank Eck turned on the afterburners to combine for 322 yards rushing and four long touchdown runs Friday night to lead Class 4A Division II’s No. 1-ranked team to a 42-21 doubling of McPherson High to spoil the Bullpups’ home opener.
Knoblauch scored on cross-country runs of 44 and 90 yards, while Eck blazed 44 and 75 yards as those four plays accounted for nearly half of the Indians’ 496 yards of total offense.
“We gave up about nine or 10 big plays,” said MHS coach Tom Young, whose team is 0-2 for the first time since his first year in 2006 when it went on to make the playoffs. “If we could have just cut that in half, we could have possibly won.”
The Bullpups had several instances where they would stop the Indians for three, four, sometimes five plays at a time, but all Knoblauch and Eck needed was just a crack and they were gone.
MHS was down 14-0 before it got on the board with 4:26 left in the first half on a 6-yard flip from Kyler Kinnamon to Jason Anderson, his second TD catch in as many weeks. MHS then tried a pop-up kickoff and appeared to have recovered the ball, but in the end the Indians somehow came away with it. That was critical because they took advantage of the short field to score just before the half for a 21-7 lead. Knoblauch then blew open a hole in the game with a 90-yard TD run halfway through the third quarter, then Andale scored again for a 35-7 advantage.
The MHS defense got the Bullpups on the board early in the fourth quarter when Kinnamon scooped up a fumble and returned it 23 yards to make it 35-14. Any hopes at all of a comeback were dashed moments later when Eck broke away for his second TD.
MHS’ last score was a 7-yard run by Nathan Nutter, who again went over the 100-yard mark with 112 on 20 carries.
“I think we’re disappointed, but not discouraged,” said Young, noting that there’s a lot of football left to be played and that the goal is to improve by the time district play rolls around in Week 7. “I am a little afraid that I don’t want our players to get down on themselves too much. I think we are close to being a really competitive, a really good team on both sides of the ball. I think we showed some flashes of some really good play tonight.”
Andale’s speed on defense made it difficult for Kinnamon as it seemed content to let Nutter run the middle to protect the outside. The Bullpup quarterback was held to just 11 yards on 10 carries after breaking the school record last year with 1,662.
MHS did have to go much of the way without two-way performer Spenser Wine, who injured a shoulder. Young said he didn’t have a definite prognosis after the game.
The Bullpups will try to enter the victory column Friday night when they play at AVCTL Division III newcomer Augusta, which trounced El Dorado 39-0 Friday for its first win of the year.
• STATISTICS •
• MHS Listed First •
First Downs — 15, 16. Rushes-Yards — 38-159; 47-392. Passing — 11-20-1-112; 6-13-0-104. Punts-Avg. — 6-37.3; 1-49.0. Fumbles-Lost — 1-0; 1-1. Penalties-Yards — 5-38; 4-25.
• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •
• Rushing •
MHS — Nutter 20-112, C. Baldwin 3-28, Kinnamon 11-10, Jirgens 3-9, Hart 1-0.
Andale — H. Knoblauch 16-175, H. Eck 9-151, Walstad 12-37, Meyer 2-11, B. Knoblauch 2-6, Capul 2-6, Reichenberger 1-5, Richter 1-2, Dagenais 1-2.
• Passing •
MHS — Kinnamon 11-20-1-112
Andale — Walstad 6-13-0-104.
• Receiving •
MHS — Williams 3-15, Anderson 2-46, Wine 2-21, Stoppel 1-12, Stephens 1-9, C. Baldwin 1-6, Nutter 1-3.
Andale — Hermreck 2-35, Capul 1-24, Bugner 1-23, H. Eck 1-8, H. Knoblauch 1-4.