MULVANE — There would be no last-second Mulvane magic Friday night.
McPherson High’s Tanner Hamilton picked off Mulvane’s Ty Redington in the final seconds to preserve the Bullpups’ AVCTL Division III-clinching victory, 35-30.
MHS finished Division III play 5-0 and is 34-1 in league play the past seven years.
Redington had led the Wildcats back from a 35-18 deficit and drove them down the field late, getting as close as the MHS 22. But Hamilton’s pick set off a mass exhale from the Bullpups and their faithful, who were able to begin celebrating a seventh straight league championship, their first in Division III after six in a row in Division II.
The game featured a mind-boggling 1,018 yards of total offense, 514 for MHS and 504 for Mulvane. Both teams scored five touchdowns, but the difference was five PATs by Marcus Houghton, while Mulvane failed on five 2-point tries.
“It’s nice to beat a good team,” said MHS coach Tom Young, whose Bullpups will take a 5-1 record and the role of favorite into district play starting Friday at Lindsborg. “They were 5-0, ranked No. 2 in the state and that type of thing. So that provided a little motivation for us.”
The Bullpups rode three touchdown catches by Keaton Sorenson in the first half, two from Houghton and one from Kyler Kinnamon, for a 21-12 lead. His second touchdown was one of the most spectacular catches in recent MHS history, while the third one wasn’t far behind on the artistic meter.
“Twice he just took it away from them and he took them in and scored,” Young said.
MHS added two more scores in the third quarter, a 48-yard strike from Kinnamon to Houghton and then a speed burner of a 66-yard run by Kinnamon, who started the game at receiver before shifting to quarterback in the second quarter.
“Kyler had warmed up before the game and looked real sharp,” Young said. “So we didn’t hestitate moving Kyler in there. He ended up doing a pretty decent job.”
Kinnamon’s long jaunt made it 35-18, but the Wildcats answered with two scores before the third quarter ended. Surprisingly, neither team scored in the final period.
MHS had good balance, rushing for 198 yards and adding 316 through the air. Austin O’Bannon just missed the century mark with 99 yards on 23 carries, while Kinnamon had 94 on nine. He also threw for 178 yards and Houghton added 138.
Redington, whose escapability frustrated MHS, was 29 of 47 for 312 yards. Nolan Smith had 12 catches for 103 yards and Alex Evans added 11 for 155.