McPherson High School barreled over an outmatched Clay Center to open up the Class 4A playoffs, but it was the defense that shined in the victory.
McPherson High School barreled over an outmatched Clay Center to open up the Class 4A playoffs, but it was the defense that shined in the victory. On three separate occasions, the Bullpups (9-1) found their backs to their goal line and stopped the Tigers (6-4) in the red zone, including a goal line stand the resulted in a turn over on downs in the waning moments of the first quarter. “The defense really tightened up when they were down there,” Head Coach Tom Young said. “That’s what we’re going to need as we go through the playoffs.” Safeties Austin O’Bannon and Marcus Houghton would each pick off a Clay Center quarterback, as backup Ryan Blake took over for Caleb Carson after Carson was knocked out of the game with a collarbone injury with 11 minutes to go in the first half. Keaton Sorenson and Travis Steenson each recorded both a sack and a tackle-for-loss in the McPherson victory. MHS also recovered a fumble by Blake and returned it 34-yards. Offensively, the Bullpups were sparked by O’Bannon, who powered his way to 153-yards rushing, 100 of which came in the first half, and also had a thrilling, 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the kickoff out of halftime. “We’d been so close on that,” Young said of O’Bannon’s return. “It always seemed like we were just one block away.” Quarterback Kyler Kinnamon went 6 of 12 for 95-yards in the air, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Alex Bahr in the first quarter. He also would score on a quarterback keeper in the second quarter. A few offensive miscues plagued MHS, though, as Kinnamon and Daniel Dick combined for four interceptions. Fullback Dalton Clark also fumbled as he was diving into the end zone in the fourth quarter. McPherson will host Andale Saturday. The Indians are coming off a 58-27 route of Hugoton in the opening round. “They’re really playing well here at the end of the year,” Young said. “That’s going to be quite a challenge for us.” Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at McPherson Stadium. STATISTICS McPherson Listed First First Downs — 18, 13. Rushing Yards — 265, 219; Passing — 6-12-4-95, 9-21-1-77; Punts-Avg. — 1-32, 4-35.3; Fumbles Lost — 1-1, 1-1. Individual Leaders Rushing MHS — O’Bannon 10-153; Clark 12-71, Kinnamon 6-35; Hart 3-12; Houghton 1-1; Nutter 3-0; Gable 3-(-3); Dick 1-(-4). Clay Center — Ellis 7-111; Carson 7-49; Huse 7-27; Blake 12-19; Ebert 4-13; Gregory 1-2; Easterberg 2-0; Bosch 1-(-2). Passing MHS — Kinnamon 6-12-3-95; Dick 0-1-1-0. Clay Center — Blake 6-12-1-56; Girton 1-1-0-12; Carson 1-7-1-9; Hogan 1-1-0-0. Receiving MHS — Sorenson 4-45, Houghton 1-37, Bahr 1-13. Clay Center — Ellis 5-54, Carson 1-11; Girton 1-9; Bosch 1-3; Scott 1-0.