McPherson College had strung together an impressive, three-game win streak that was obliterated in one quarter.
The Bulldog defense, who had more than held their own in all four of its previous games, came apart in the second quarter last week against then-NAIA No. 10 Ottawa, giving up 20 second quarter points on their way to a 34-7 loss.
“That was definitely not a showing that represents the type of team that we have,” Mac College coach Pete Sterbick said. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t compete at a higher level once things started to not go our way. Ottawa is a very good team, but I think we could have made it more competitive than for just one quarter. The only real bright spot was when the game ended, and we were able to get to Sunday and move on. Our guys know we are a better team than we showed.”
McPherson (3-2, 2-1 KCAC) looks to prove exactly that Saturday, as they travel down to Wichita to face No. 17 Friends University, who is coming off a 45-22 win over Kansas Wesleyan University last week. The Falcons have only lost once on the year, that a 28-15 decision to Bendectine College in the HAAC/KCAC Series Sept. 14.
Against the Coyotes, Friends racked up an astounding 388 yards on the ground, averaging 6.6 yards per rush on 59 tries. In the air, Aaron Hansen had 11 completed passes for 131 yards and had two touchdown tosses.
On the season, the Falcons (4-1, 3-0) are averaging 401 yards per contest, sixth best in the conference. They are third best in the KCAC in the rushing offense category, as they average 216.2 yards per game.
“Friends has as much team speed as anyone we will face,” Sterbick said, “and they play with an aggressive, in-your-face style. Their skill level and intensity are very high; we’re going to have to find a way to match that.”
Of major concern for the Bulldogs will be stopping leading rusher Thomas Hankerson, who has 134 carries and 660 yards with five touchdowns.
“He’s a very quick back,” Sterbick said. “We need to bottle him. It’s pretty simple really; we need to get off blocks and wrap up. We are very capable at stopping the run if we execute what is called, we have the personnel to get the job done, it’s just a matter of believing in our plan and each of our players doing their job. If we can do that, we will have a shot.”
The Bulldogs will most likely have a tough time rushing the ball against a stifling Falcon rush defense. The Falcons are allowing only 93.8 yards per game, leading the KCAC. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, rank near the bottom of the conference in the run game, putting up an average of 125.6 yards.
Page 2 of 2 - The good news, however, is that the pass defense for Friends isn’t near as tough, as they give up 196.8 yards per game and rank sixth in the conference.
Mac College’s offense, meanwhile, is fourth with an average of 253.6 yards. Quarterback Jordan Hoffmann is already over the 1,000 yard passing mark on the year, having completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,244 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has only been picked of six times this season.
The Bulldogs will seek their fourth win of the season Saturday at 1:30 p.m., as they face Friends University at Adair Austin Stadium.
Contact Chris Swick by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.