If McPherson College’s Bulldogs can pick off another team ahead of them in the KCAC standings, they’ll put themselves in position for an upper-division finish, which three weeks ago was considered unthinkable.
The Bulldogs have climbed out of a last-place hole into a fourth-place tie with Tabor and Bethany. They make their sixth and final road trip of the year Saturday when they travel to third-place Sterling.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Smisor Stadium.
The Bulldogs come into the game on a high after back-to-back victories over Saint Mary and nationally ranked Tabor, teams that were ahead of them in the standings after five weeks of conference play. Mac is now 3-3 in the KCAC, 3-5 overall.
Sterling is 4-2 in the KCAC, 4-4 overall. The Warriors are the defending conference champions who have lost to co-leaders Friends and Ottawa in KCAC play.
Mac pulled out a 15-14 road victory over Tabor last week, scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. The Bulldogs’ defense was fabulous, forcing four turnovers and stuffing one of the top rushing attacks into the country more than 200 yards under its season average.
Bulldog coach Steve Fox said it’s important for his team to keep moving forward and not dwell on celebrating the past two weeks.
“There’s no rest for the weary,” chuckled Fox, whose team still has played at home only three times all year. “You’ve got to turn the page in this conference. There are no easy games, especially this year.”
Sterling has come on as of late, as it relies on perhaps the most gifted trio of skill players in the conference in quarterback Reggie Langford, running back Antonio Bray and the multipurpose Dentton Hudspeth, who can run, throw or catch.
“You’ve got those three musketeers over there,” Fox quipped. “I haven’t slept all week thinking about all three of them. You focus on one or two, then the third one hurts you. It’s not much different than Tabor, but it’s more spread out.”
Fox said a key is controlling the big play. Teams have stopped the Warriors at times, but they seem to strike with the home-run play since Bray and Hudspeth are two of the fastest players in the conference.
“We definitely have to limit those big plays,” Fox said.
As for the Warriors’ defense, it came up with a staggering nine interceptions in last week’s game against Saint Mary. But the Bulldogs don’t throw it all that much, instead hoping to grind it out.
The Bulldogs do welcome back linebacker Trent Forrester and quarterback Cody Groff after they had missed the last two games. Fox, however, said he’ll be staying with Kelly Cordova as his starting quarterback as the freshman is 2-0 so far and has played with the poise of a senior. Fox added, though, it’s nice to have two young quarterbacks with such exciting potential.
Fox is hoping his team can close with a rush. After this week’s game, it has road games remaining against unpredictable Bethany and last-place Southwestern.
• KCAC STANDINGS •
Friends, 5-1, (6-2)
Ottawa, 5-1, 6-2
Sterling, 4-2 (4-4)
Tabor, 3-3 (5-3)
Bethany, 3-3 (4-4)
McPherson College, 3-3 (3-5)
Bethel, 2-4 (3-5)
Kansas Wesleyan, 2-4 (2-6)
Saint Mary, 2-4 (2-6)
Southwestern, 1-5, (1-7)