AUGUSTA—It was an unusual Friday night for the McPherson High School football team, and despite struggling to stop Augusta's flex bone offense, the Bullpups eventually put up 42 unanswered points and shut down the Orioles 56-14. The Bullpups improve to 6-0, while the Orioles drop to 2-4 on the season.
The Bullpups had to deal with another bad start in the first quarter, probably the worst all year. Augusta's flex-bone option play kept the Bullpups on their heels in the first half, scoring two early touchdowns on the ground. The Orioles rushed a total of 295 on 60 carries. Quarterback Hunter Anderson had a big night for Augusta as he rushed for 146 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown.
"That's a really good football team," Bullpups Head coach Jace Pavlovich said. "Their front five are big, physical, and run the right style on offense for the type of kids that they have. Coach (Jason) Filbeck said after the game that 'this was the best we've ever executed on you guys in the first quarter.' A sophomore kid—a tough kid at quarterback, and he made the right reads."
On the first drive, Augusta ran 15 plays for 80 yards in seven minutes. Ryan Andrews completed the drive with a one-yard touchdown. The Bullpup offense didn't see the field until late in the first quarter. No need, because McPherson scored two straight on the return game Aaron Powell ran for 85 yards on a kickoff return, and Jakob Feil pinballed his way through a 58-yard punt return.
The Orioles took some gambles on special teams, but unfortunately, luck was not on their side. On kickoff, after tying the game at 14, the Orioles went for an onside kick, but the Bullpups recovered the ball at the 50. McPherson will score on that drive with a seven-yard run by quarterback Kaleb Hoppes. After going three-and-out, the Orioles went for a fake punt, but was intercepted by Mason Thrash, putting the Bullpups in good field position, and eventually set up a touchdown pass to Jonah Clarke.
"Special teams were outstanding, and we took care of the football too," Pavlovich said. "For the most part, I thought we did a good job in that category. On special teams, we did put a little bit more emphasis on it yesterday after practice and try to hone a few things because we got some phenomenal athletes out there, and if we can just get a hat on a hat, they're going to do some pretty special things."
The Bullpups dominated in the second half, rushing four straight touchdowns. Two were on Feil's back-to-back rushing attack in the third quarter, and Hoppes and Aiden Hoover added two more in the fourth quarter to put the icing on the cake. The Bullpups put 207 yards on the ground off 23 carries.
"At halftime, offensively, there wasn't a whole lot to talk about," Pavlovich said. "Upfront, the guys were doing a great job blocking. I wasn't really impressed by their front four defensively. Our guys took care of business. Offensively, I thought we were pretty sharp in the running game. The passing game, it almost appeared we lacked a little confidence throwing the football. That is something we're going to get back just fine. I'm not worried about that."
As the Bullpups are sitting pretty in first place league play, McPherson will return home to host Rose Hill High School next Friday, while the Orioles will host Abilene High School.
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