BUHLER—Bodies were flying, the crowd was screaming and the yellow and red cards were in the air the whole night. It was just another night of rivalry soccer at Buhler.

On the night before the high school football teams take the field, McPherson and Buhler High School soccer faced off in a controversial matchup on Thursday night. The Bullpups, who were down a player, found a way to beat their league rivals with a 2-1 victory, edging the Crusaders from claiming the AVCTL Division III title.

As expected, the Bullpups held their grudge after losing to Buhler two straight regular seasons. Enough grudges for McPherson to received four yellow cards, and one red that forced Rhett Edmonson out of the game. However, McPherson fought on as it was scoreless the majority of the first half.

"That's not how we wanted to play, but that's how we had to play when we were down a man," Bullpups Head coach Chris Adrian said. "I felt that if we were 9-on-11, we could still beat this team. That's what I told the guys at halftime. Down a man, they still have to respect us a lot going forward."

The Bullpups caught the break they needed with only 10 seconds left before the end of the first half. Tyler Hoxie showed off his rocket of a leg when he launched a 55-yard free-kick, which landed accurately to Drew Schrader for a goal, leading 1-0 at the half. Hoxie later scored on a PK that gave the Bullpups a 2-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half.

"Tyler Hoxie was such a weapon today. He was kicking the ball 20-yards farther than he normally does," Adrian said. "And he's putting it right where the guys know it's going to go. This was a great game for him to showcase what he can do."

Buhler wouldn't accept a shutout. The Crusaders were on the ropes but remained in the game. Cade Taylor brought the team back with a PK kick that resulted in the Crusaders' first goal of the night. Buhler had its opportunities to get to turn the match around but fell short. Adrian credited his Bullpups for staying in sync the whole night.

"This was a similar type game when we played Andover Central a week or two ago," Adrian said. "The last 20 minutes of that game, we panicked, but today we got that same type of feel, but we were a lot more composed."

The Bullpups are now 9-2, sitting comfortably in first place in their league, while Buhler dropped to 6-5. McPherson will return home to host Circle High School next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_