LINDSBORG AND MCPHERSON — Just as McPherson High was about to turn the lights out on Smoky Valley’s upset hopes Friday night, the lights went out — literally.
The Bullpups were driving for a touchdown late in the third quarter that would have put Friday night’s district game with Smoky Valley out of sight, but a downtown transformer blew, turning Anderson Stadium into total darkness — except for the lights in the press box.
With MHS up 28-7 with 2:39 left in the third quarter, the decision was made to pack everything up and move the game to McPherson. After a delay of more than an hour, the game resumed at 10:10 p.m., and the Bullpups went on to complete a 42-13 victory.
“I have had a couple of occasions in games where the lights went out late in the games where we had pretty good leads,” said MHS coach Tom Young, whose team improved to 6-1 and is 1-0 in the district. “This is the first time I’ve been involved where we had to move. I’m sure glad we did this. I would have hated to have played tomorrow night.”
For a quarter, though, it had all the makings of “Hoosiers,” only in shoulder pads.
Smoky Valley took the fight to the Bullpups early. Kyle Ryan picked off a pass on MHS’ fourth play and the Vikings converted that into a 1-yard Ethan Loder dive. Jared DeMott’s PAT made it 7-0 and there almost was a sense of shock on the Bullpups’ sideline.
But MHS, which just last week handed then No. 2-ranked Mulvane its first loss, began to flex its muscles, as it dominated the line of scrimmage in the second quarter to pound out three touchdowns for a 21-7 halftime lead.
The first drive could have been called the “Austin O’Bannon Drive,” as he carried 10 straight plays, scoring from a yard. The Bullpups then put together an 82-yard beauty of a drive, capped by a 6-yard blast by Aaron Elsasser. The final score was a 20-yard pitch from Kyler Kinnamon to Alex Bahr, who made a sensational catch when it appeared the Viking defense was in position to make a play.
MHS added one more score before the lights went out, a 27-yard pass from Kinnamon to Keaton Sorenson. When the game shifted, O’Bannon scored twice on short runs before Curtis Carlson scored late for the Vikings.
“They outplayed us early,” Young said. “They run their schemes well and we were a little slow to react. We had a couple of turnovers early and it looked like it might be a long night.”
For Smoky Valley coach Chris Hattabaugh, there was nothing for him or his team to hang their heads about. They played inspired early, but MHS’ superior strength and speed eventually decided the outcome.
“We had some breakdowns defensively,” Hattabaugh said. “We were in the right position, we just didn’t make the tackles. They’re good. They’re a good football team, no doubt about it.”
MHS had nice balance with 213 yards passing from Kinnamon, while O’Bannon’s 150 yards on 22 carries led a 212-yard ground attack. Loder was valiant in defeat, rushing for 122 yards on 27 carries, but the Vikings’ lack of a passing game allowed MHS to focus on the run.
“I thought our kids fought hard and I’m proud of the effort,” Hattabaugh said.
MHS hosts Abilene Friday, while Smoky Valley goes to Chapman, which defeated Abilene 29-28 in the other district game.