The McPherson High School football team owned Buhler High School during its league rivalry series in the last three seasons. On homecoming night, the Bullpups made it four in a row, and despite a late comeback, the Bullpups held on and escaped with the 21-14 win, giving Buhler its first loss on the season.
"When we needed to make plays, our guys stepped up in a big way and made plays," Head coach Jace Pavlovich said. "The bottom line is that we beat a 4-0 Buhler team in a crazy environment once again, and we got a lot to be thankful for."
On the second drive, the Bullpups were on the board after quarterback Kaleb Hoppes found Aaron Powell in a comeback-route for a 67-yard touchdown. Since then, the Crusaders' defense kept the Bullpups grounded as it remained 6-0 at halftime.
McPherson's offense finally got going late in the third quarter when Hoppes targeted Powell again for a 27-yard touchdown. Then to Kansas State commit Cody Stufflebean to complete a 2-point conversion. After a Jayden Dukes interception, the Bullpups scored once more off Jake Feil's 15-yard run.
With the 21-0 lead late in the third quarter, it almost looked like the Bullpups was on the verge of running away with the win early, but the Crusaders had different plans. Things went sideways for McPherson offensively and on special teams. Not to mention the 10 penalties committed the whole night. The Crusaders took advantage of McPherson's mental errors and made a stellar comeback midway through the fourth quarter. Bradley Neill threw two touchdown passes to both Briggam McCurdy and Kahalewai McDowell, who also got an interception in the second quarter, that changed the game around in a blink of an eye. Buhler had momentum on its side, but with a minute and a half left, Neill throws an interception, made by Hoppes, which would end their run. For the Bullpups, when adversity kicked in, they excelled in the challenge, which is something Pavlovich needed from his players with only three more games left.
"I thought we handled adversity well," Pavlovich said. "We made a lot of mistakes, and we picked up our guys and moved on. There were so many good things that happened tonight. We got guys that can get it done, and we just need to continue to improve."
The Bullpups (5-0) are in the driver's seat in the AVCTL D-III league and Class 4A West division, which would give the Bullpups home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
McPherson will be on the road to take on Augusta High School next Friday at 7 p.m. Buhler will host Circle High School on the same night.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_