When you’re at the top of the mountain, it’s easy to overlook the guy about halfway up.
When you’re at the top of the mountain, it’s easy to overlook the guy about halfway up. That’s what McPherson College (3-3, 3-4 overall) is hoping Kansas Wesleyan University (6-1, 6-3 overall) does as the Bulldogs gear up for a road clash with the Coyotes, who sit at the top of the KCAC standings right below Ottawa University. The Bulldogs are coming off a tough 26-14 Senior Day loss to the University of Saint Mary last Saturday. Head Coach Pete Sterbick said his team acknowledged its play was lacking against the Spires, but has made up for it in practice this week. “We are embracing the opportunity of playing spoiler this weekend,” Sterbick said. “Our tempo has been really good, and I’ve been pleased with our effort.” Kansas Wesleyan, led by head coach Dave Dallas, will provide a stiff test for the Bulldogs, as the Coyotes rushed for 353 yards in a 35-17 win over Southwestern last weekend. Running back Brett Giesen put up 317 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns in the victory. On the season, the Coyotes are averaging about 160 yards on the ground and 206 yards in the air per game, good enough to sit at the middle of the pack in total offensive numbers in the KCAC. “They are a good team that has found ways to win games,” Sterbick said. “Defensively, they give up some yards, but have risen up at crucial times and gotten key stops.” Kansas Wesleyan ranks just above Bethel defensively at the bottom of the KCAC. The Coyotes give up, on average, 449 yards-per-game, which looks to make for a long afternoon against a McPherson offense that snaps off, on average, 406 yards a game. What’s more, this should be a hungry Bulldog squad Saturday. Quarterback Jake Snodgrass, who has been this season’s leading rusher, was held pretty quiet in the Saint Mary game, netting only 40 yards rushing and 181 yards in the air. Saint Mary out-gained McPherson 366-270. Sterbick also is looking for his defense set up, as he said Kansas Wesleyan thrives on getting big plays. He said he wants to see the Bulldogs force some turnovers. “We are overdue to force some turnovers,” Sterbick said. “Our guys will be chomping at the bit to take the ball away.” The last time the Bulldogs had a defensive turnover was against Bethel on Sept. 29, where McPherson snagged two interceptions and picked up two fumbles. The Bulldogs still have one of the toughest defenses in the KCAC, however, as they are holding opponents to an average of 19.9 points-per-game and only given up 269.9 yards. Sterbick said he doesn’t look for that to change on Saturday. “We are going to be sound and focus on tackling well in the run game,” Sterbick said. “We know we are going to have to play well and win the turnover battle to win the game.” Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Salina Stadium. This is the first of two road games the Bulldogs face to close the season. Next week, they finish the season at Sterling.