The Bulldogs return to McPherson Stadium next Saturday with a visit by the Threshers of Bethel College in the annual Blake Reed Memorial Game.
WINFIELD — The McPherson College football team struck first but could not hold back Southwestern College as the Moundbuilders won 45-17 Saturday evening in a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup at Richard L. Lantz Stadium.
In contrast to the disparity on the scoreboard, Southwestern (1-3, 1-1 KCAC) held a slim 429-395 advantage in total offense. In the passing game, McPherson (1-2, 0-2 KCAC) was frustrated by a Builder defense that repeatedly dropped eight players into coverage. As a result, Ed Crouch finished just 16-of-30 for 191 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Southwestern quarterback Christian Gordon finished 22-of-33 for 254 yards and a touchdown as 11 different Builder receivers caught a pass.
Eman McNeal and Jackson Goodmiller each hauled in five passes. McNeal finished with a team-high 52 receiving yards, while Goodmiller had 44 yards and a touchdown. Desmond Anderson caught three passes for 49 yards.
The Bulldogs won the battle on the ground, however, by a 204-158 margin led by 87 yards by Corey Davis. Crouch added 75 yards and a touchdown. Keyshawn Wyatt was Southwestern's leading rusher with 75 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns.
Thomas Lanktree was McPherson's top tackler with 14, while Ashton Serpas added 12, including seven solo stops. Tanner Williams was the third Bulldog with double-digit tackles, finishing with 10. David Ashilonu led Southwestern with 11 tackles and a pass break-up.
Field position was certainly a factor in the game's outcome. The average starting position for Southwestern was its own 42-yard line, while four Mario Esparza touchbacks helped force McPherson into an average start from its own 24.
On first glance, it appeared that the offensive explosion that the Bulldogs experienced in last week's loss at Bethany had carried over to this week. After forcing Southwestern to punt on the game's first offensive series, Crouch found Goodmiller for a 20-yard touchdown pass to cap an eight-play, 83-yard drive on McPherson's first possession.
Another punt followed on the Moundbuilders' next drive, but the Bulldogs were unable to cash in. McPherson moved the ball all the way down to the Southwestern 12-yard line, but was forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide left off the foot of Jack Reid .
Southwestern knotted the score with a touchdown on its next drive. Aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties by the Bulldogs, the Moundbuilders moved 80 yards in five plays capped off by a 30-yard TD scamper by Silas Jefferson.
Esparza hit a 44-yard field goal early in the second quarter to give the hosts the lead, but Reid answered by redeeming his earlier miss with a 35-yarder to tie the game at 10 midway through the quarter.
The Moundbuilders regained the lead on a 23-yard pass from Gordon to Donny Ebanks, then extended it to two scores when Wyatt scored on a 12-yard run. Wyatt's score was set up by a 30-yard interception return by Tomunci Whitfield that allowed Southwestern to start the drive at the McPherson 46-yard line.
Gordon provided the only scoring in the third quarter, finding the end zone on a 3-yard keeper with 3:31 left to make it a 31-10 game. Wyatt and Mike'l Anderson added 1-yard plunges early in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 45-10 before Crouch capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive with an 11-yard run to conclude the scoring.
After a bye week and two road games, the Bulldogs return to McPherson Stadium next Saturday with a visit by the Threshers of Bethel College in the annual Blake Reed Memorial Game. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. The newly-renovated Blake Reed Memorial Football Locker Room will be dedicated in a ceremony at 2:30 p.m.on the McPherson Stadium concourse behind the new ticket booths.