Top-ranked McPherson Bullpups survive, recover fumble in overtime to edge Winfield

Joel Muhs/Special to The News
McPherson Bullpups

MCPHERSON – It’s not often when a team’s downfall can be its saving grace.

But that was the case with the McPherson Bullpups as the Gannett Kansas tied-top-ranked 4A team edged the No. 10 Winfield Vikings 21-14 in overtime at McPherson Stadium on Friday night.

The Bullpups, who turned the ball over four times in the first half, came up with a game-saving defensive turnover of their own after they forced a fumble on their own seven-yard line in overtime, which sealed the victory and sent the stadium in pandemonium. 

“No idea guys. I’ll be honest with you, I kind of lost my mind there,” McPherson head coach Jace Pavlovich said after being asked what player forced the game-sealing fumble.

"That’s a good win. Any win is a good win when you’re playing in the league we’re playing in. We don’t have a whole lot of respect because of seasons past, but the fact of the matter is that every week is going to be a dog fight. Winfield came out and they believed in each other, and they played hard. That’s a dang good team.”

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However, it was the legs of McPherson running back Jaytin Gumm that sparked the Bullpup offense yet again. Gumm finished the game with two touchdown runs, one a 16-yard run in the second quarter and the other a one-yard run with 10:32 left in the game.

“I think it was a big game changer for us,” Gumm said on the impact of his two long runs to end the third quarter. “We got momentum shifted towards us a little bit and got our defense fired up wanting to get the ball back. It was just a big momentum shift.”

Gumm ignited the offense late in the third quarter with back-to-back 25 and 19-yard runs that set up his second touchdown of the night.

McPherson was unbeaten and Winfield was an improved top-10 team as both schools entered with a combined 5-1 record, but the Bullpups needed the entire 48 minutes to down the Vikings after outscoring Winfield 150-21 in their previous three meetings.

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Although the Bullpups totaled four turnovers in the first half, McPherson entered halftime with a 7-6 advantage, but the Bullpup defense kept the Viking offense at bay after allowing zero points off the four turnovers.

“Our defense is really good,” Gumm said. “Like I said (before), they’re just going to keep improving and keep improving. They’re one of the best defenses in the state.”

McPherson will look to ride the unbeaten wave as they visit El Dorado next Friday, but Pavlovich noted that the mindset and discipline will have to change in order to continue their success.

“The mindset moving forward is really simple, and that’s to focus on ourselves,” Pavlovich said. “We had some finger-pointing going on in the first half, and that’s something that’s going to tear you apart. We got to improve ourselves. We got to get a lot better in terms of discipline. This group, (if) we buy into it and get it done, the sky’s the limit.”

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