Behind a resurgence from the offensive line, and another stellar outing from the defense, the Bullpups improved to 2-1 on the season with a 38-14 thrashing of Winfield Friday night at McPherson Stadium.

The McPherson High School football team wanted to send a message against Winfield.

McPherson was dominated up front and in the running game last week in a 9-0 loss to Maize South — the Bullpups were determined not to let it happen again this week.

Behind a resurgence from the offensive line, and another stellar outing from the defense, the Bullpups improved to 2-1 on the season with a 38-14 thrashing of Winfield Friday night at McPherson Stadium. It took the McPherson offense a couple of series to get going, but once they did, the Bullpups left Winfield in the dust.

“Our guys executed well tonight,” head coach Jace Pavlovich said. “We didn’t start the game the way we anticipated starting offensively; we were a little sluggish. Our offensive line played very well all night. Our backs were a little slow to get started, they didn’t run the ball as hard as they are capable of doing, but after those first couple of series they got after it and started running the ball like they know how to.”

The McPherson High offense did not get off to a great start. The Pups were not able to get a first down on their opening possession — partially due to a holding call that wiped away a huge run by Jace Kinnamon — forcing them to punt the ball away.

The Bullpups lined up with quarterback Kyler Hoppes in the shotgun, only to have him try a quick kick to get the defense off balance. The kick was blocked, however, and Winfield had first and goal from the 10 yard line on its opening possession.

But the McPherson High defense, regarded by many as the best defense in Class 4A DI, stood tall. The defense faced fourth and goal from the one yard line, and forced a fumble and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.

The McPherson offense moved the ball well on its next possession, marching inside the Winfield 30 before fumbling the ball away. Again Winfield was not able to cash in on the turnover, and that was the last gift McPherson gave away before turning it up a notch.

Ben Nikkel put the Pups on the board first with a four-yard jet sweep run to the corner of the end zone right before the first quarter came to an end. Nikkel scored on a similar play early in the second quarter from 16 yards out to give the Pups a 12-0 lead.

The Bullpups would tack on two more touchdowns before the half ended — Austen Hunt with a seven yard run and a Kyler Hoppes touchdown pass to Gabe Hoover with 1:10 left in the half.

The Bullpups took a 26-0 lead into halftime, but did a great job of coming out of halftime with the same intensity as they had when they started the game.

The Bullpups scored on their first two possessions of the second half — a two yard run by Kinnamon and a 17-yard quarterback keeper from Hoppes.

The Bullpups led 38-0 entering the fourth quarter, but Winfield scored two touchdowns in garbage time to make the score a bit more respectable. But after a flat performance last week, the Bullpups came out in their home opener ready to make a statement.

“If we want to be in the state championship game, where we feel like we have a chance to be, we have got to be able to run the ball a little bit better, and I felt like we took a step in the right direction tonight,” Pavlovich said. “Defensively, it’s so often overlooked, but these guys are amazing. I just absolutely love watching these guys plays. Coach [Chet] Harlin does a great job as the defensive coordinator.”

Pavlovich expects a much tougher game next week when the Bullpups travel to undefeated Augusta.

“[Augusta] has size up front, they have speed; we’ve got to get much better if we want to get a win next week,” Pavlovich said.

The Bullpups take on Augusta next Friday at 7 p.m.