Facing the No. 13 Tabor College Blue Jays, 3-4 Bulldog football is desperate for a win to stay in the mix of the conference standings.
Last Saturday's game against USM started well for the Bulldog defense as they intercepted Saint Mary on their first play of the game.
A few plays later and McPherson was on top 3-0 after Michael Phillips hit his MC record setting ninth field goal of the season.
It was a short lived lead for Mac as the Spires took the ball down and scored on their next possession, aided by a fourth down fake punt.
Up 7-3, USM scored early in the second quarter after a McPherson fumble gave them a short field. Saint Mary would take their 14-3 lead into halftime.
A blocked field goal by the Spires on MC's opening possession of the second half was returned 90 yards to put USM ahead 21-3.
The Bulldogs continued to push and drive the field but twice fumbled in the red zone, hindering their ability to get back in the game.
Once the fourth quarter hit, Mac found their rhythm, posting touchdowns on back-to-back possessions, pulling the score to 21-18 after a two-point conversion on the second TD.
A Jordan Hoffman to Paul Rotering connection was the first score while Scott Thibodeaux punched in a seven-yard scamper for the other.
With their offense lacking, Saint Mary turned to their special teams to put points on the board and Bernard Bolden delivered as he returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, giving the Spires some breathing room at 27-18.
As time was winding down, McPherson scored for a third-straight possession as Hoffman lowered his shoulder for a one-yard sneak with 2:53 remained on the clock and the Bulldogs trailing 27-25.
A failed onside kick gave USM the ball and on third and one the Spires ended the game as they made the conversion with a half-yard to spare.
A couple of kneel downs and the time expired with Saint Mary winning 27-25.
Looking at the stats and it would be assumed that McPherson got the victory as they out did the Spires in first downs (24-to-10), total plays (75-to-51), total yards (358-to-136), and time of possession (35:53-to-23:57).
Sadly for Mac, the only statistic that matters is the score and USM topped the Bulldogs in that category.
The read-option worked well for MC as they netted 192 yards on the ground with Isaiah Franklin and Gerald Hardridge doing the brunt of the damage with 100 and 70 yards, respectively.
Hoffman threw for 196 yards and a touchdown on his 21-of-27 night. Rotering grabbed six balls for 58 yards while Tremon Robinson snatched five for 42.
McPherson's defense once again played well, allowing just 136 total yards, 71 through the air, to a team that is averaging close to 300 passing yards per contest.
Page 2 of 3 - Dominique Henderson was the defensive leader in terms of tackles with seven solo and one assisted. He had two sacks and three tackles for a loss of 25 yards.
Tyler Bruton recorded seven tackles and a blocked extra point.
MC still ranks in the top-10 of the NAIA in a couple categories including fifth in opponent third down conversion percentage at 27.0 percent.
The defense is 13th in rushing yards allowed a game at 124.7 and 25th in total defense, 348.9. The Bulldog offensive passing attack is 21st in the Nation with their 1597 total yards.
The 6-1 Blue Jays have been ranked all season in the top-25 of the NAIA polls.
The team's lone loss came against Sterling College in a 46-45 overtime thriller. This past weekend, TC came up against No. 15 Friends University in the NAIA's football game of the week. The competition did not disappoint as it was a one point game with Tabor ending the contest with a 20-19 victory.
The NAIA-leading rushing attack worked well for the Blue Jays as they totaled 289 yards on 55 attempts. James Monroe led the way with his 194 yards on 34 tries.
A 50 percent day was recorded by quarterback Ryan Nelson as he hit 9-of-18 for 177 and a touchdown. Scott Bauer pulled down three passes for 92 yards while Cordell Simmons had 34 and the TD on his three grabs.
Tabor's defense held Friends to 271 total yards of offense with 102 coming on the ground. Top Falcon running back Thomas Hankerson was limited to 33 yards on his 21 carries.
The D forced six punts and one interception in the team's win. Terach Antoine, the team's leading tackler, logged 14 with nine coming unassisted. He had three sacks and five total stops for a loss. Fellow lineman Dylan Delk posted eight stops with one going for a sack.
This season TC has rushed for 2305 yards, first in the nation, averaging an NAIA second-best 329.3 per contest. Their total offense a game sits at 445.3 which ranks 15th.
Over 40 points have been scored in four of the team's seven games. They average 33.9 an outing, placing 16th in the country. Monroe tallies 149.1 a game on the ground and has 1044 on the year, both put him fifth in the NAIA.
Nelson has thrown for 576 yards and four TDs this season. Both Bauer and Simmons have 15 receptions apiece for 290 and 133 yards, respectively.
On defense, Antoine anchors a stingy Blue Jay d-line. The senior has 52 stops this season with 38 being by himself. He also has 17 tackles for a loss (second in the NAIA) and four sacks.
Anthony Daniel ranks second on the team with his 43 tackles, nearly all being solo stops. Cody Godshall, Donnell Davis and Delk each have over 30 tackles for the season. Davis is the team's interception leader with his three picks.
Page 3 of 3 - Tabor faces Bethany College at home on Nov. 2 for the next contest.
The 'Dogs make it out of their nightmare October schedule after their contest with Tabor but things don't get any easier as the Warriors of Sterling College, upsetters of both Ottawa and Tabor, come to town on Nov. 2.
Kickoff Saturday is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at McPherson Stadium.