McPherson College football coach Steve Fox would have preferred that Tabor College had been on the right end of a 14-11 score with Friends last week.
Instead, the Bluejays’ KCAC title hopes took a huge hit with their three-point loss to the Falcons, who are now tied with Ottawa for the conference lead. Tabor tumbled into a third-place tie with Sterling and darkhorse Bethany.
“This was the worst thing, in my mind, that could have happened, them coming off a loss,” Fox said of the Bluejays. “They’re going to be hungry for that win again.”
Mac and Tabor meet Saturday in Hillsboro for a 1:30 p.m. contest.
The Bulldogs are coming off their most rousing win of the year, a 24-9 Homecoming Weekend beauty against Saint Mary. Mac won that game despite being down to its fourth-string quarterback, fourth-string runningback and a receiver without a catch all year.
While Fox is excited the Bulldogs improved to 2-3 in the KCAC and 2-5 overall, he has preached to his team that it can’t be satisfied and must bring the same type of effort, even more, this week.
“I’ve had my foot on the gas with the kids all week,” said Fox, who said it’s been a very good week of practice. “We don’t want them to get too complacent with what happened. We’ve got to move forward.”
The game will be decided in the trenches. The strength of both teams is the offensive and defensive lines and which team wins the line of scrimmage will emerge the winner. There doesn’t figure to be a lot of big passing plays, since Tabor runs the flexbone and keeps the ball on the ground while Mac, with converted receiver Kelly Cordova at quarterback, also would like to pound it on the ground.
Tabor, amazingly, did not throw a single pass in its earlier 19-3 win over Sterling, but Fox said the Bulldogs have to be alert the potential is there.
“The threat is there, so you can’t ignore it,” Fox said. “They have two excellent receivers. They’ll put you asleep with the run and all of a sudden you have a receiver running past you. You have to be aware.”
Like Mac, the Bluejays have been decimated by injuries at quarterback as they have had three starters this year. Regular Simon McKee, a terrific option quarterback, was lost early in the season and has not returned.
Mac needs for Cordova to have another big game, but Tabor’s defense is arguably the KCAC’s best. Cordova earned KCAC Player of the Week honors for leading the Bulldogs to their win last week, rushing for 115 yards and throwing for 124 more. He might have Miles Balthazor more available this week after he had only two carries last week because of an injured ankle. Terrance Jones also is out, so Mac may again have Dalton Whitfield going both ways. He played both running back and linebacker last week, in addition to punting since Trent Forrester is out with a pinched nerve. Forrester remains out this week.
• KCAC STANDINGS •
Friends, 4-1 (5-2)
Ottawa, 4-1 (5-2)
Tabor, 3-2 (5-2)
Bethany, 3-2 (4-3)
Sterling, 3-2 (3-4)
Bethel, 2-3 (3-4)
McPherson College, 2-3 (2-5)
Saint Mary, 2-3 (2-5)
Kansas Wesleyan, 1-4 (1-6)
Southwestern, 1-4 (1-6)’
• Saturday’s Games •
McPherson College at Tabor
Bethany at Friends
Saint Mary at Sterling
Kansas Wesleyan at Bethel
Ottawa at Southwestern