For the third straight week, the McPherson College football team had its backs against the wall. However, on a homecoming Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs survived not only the gusty winds but a come-from-behind 16-13 victory over Southwestern College.
The Bulldogs won three straight, dramatic games after an 0-3 start on the season, and are 3-2 in KCAC.
"I told them after the game as their coach, and as a guy who wore those red helmets with the white M on it, I couldn't be more proud of the fact you can tell they are playing for each other, Bulldogs Head coach Jeremiah Fiscus said. "They are playing for McPherson, and they are playing for the right reasons. I couldn't be happier."
McPherson's defense struggled against the run, giving up 234 yards on the ground as they tried to figure out how to stop Southwestern's jet sweep attack. However, McPherson did show why it is the No. 2 pass defense in NAIA. The Moundbuilders only threw 58 yards on offense, and their quarterback Yizalle Whitfield was sacked six times and forced two turnovers that were the deciding factor of the game.
"The defense is playing like their hair was on fire, and offensively we just couldn't get clicking consistently early. We really couldn't," Fiscus said. The kids are pretty tenacious—it is pretty evident to me that they buy into this idea of the culture we wanted."
Ed Crouch, who has been dealing with a minor knee injury, almost had a quiet night in the first three quarters as he struggled through the air. Crouch was 10 for 27 for 108 yards and one touchdown.
Despite playing on leg, "The Magic Man" appeared in the nick of time when the Bulldogs needed him the most. Trailing 7-6 majority of the day, Crouch threw a slant pass to Ben Nikkel that would give the Bulldogs their first lead of the day, 9-7.
"For whatever reason, we were in a funk offensively pretty much all day," Fiscus said. "We couldn't get the run game going and the passing game going, and at the very end, it was 'alright, this is why we do the hard things when he scoreboard is not on. Let's go do it now.'"
Whitfield responded with a quarterback keeper midway through the fourth quarter to regain the lead, 13-9. The Moundbuilders had another opportunity to put the Bulldogs away for good, but had to rely on their back-up quarterback when Whitfield was taken out due to an injury. The Bulldogs caught a break with a game-changing interception at the goal line by Brandon Wright. With full momentum, the Bulldog offense produced a 99-yard game-winning drive orchestrated by Crouch, and the help of the Moundbuilders two costly penalties. Crouch made two big running plays in midfield, then targeted Eman McNeal with 13-yard pass, which would set up a touchdown run by LeMishio Hill.
"Everybody in this stadium—when they saw four was back there, I'm sure those guys on that sideline was praying for a bad snap because that was the only thing that was going to stop him from scoring," Fiscus said.
The Bulldogs will return home to host Ottawa University next week at 5:30 p.m.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_