A late summer storm and the thundering McPherson Bullpups shut down Abilene’s homecoming activities with a 48-3 two-quarter win at Abilene Friday night.
The undefeated Class 4A ranked Bullpups provided enough lightning against the 0-4 Cowboys as they struck on big play after big play in the second quarter to put away Abilene.
McPherson senior quarterback Kaleb Hoppes threw for two scores and ran for a touchdown as they moved to 4-0 to stay atop the Class 4A West Division. Hoppes had thrown for 607 yards and seven touchdowns coming into Friday’s contest, completed five of six for 66 yards and two scores against the Cowboys.
Ironically, it wasn’t Hoppes who started the game for Mac. McPherson head coach Jace Pavlovich trotted out junior Dylan Rinker to be under center in the first quarter at Cowboy Stadium. Rinker was perfect two for two and on the fifth play of the game he connected with sophomore Trey Buckbee on a 45-yard scoring strike for the Bullpups.
McPherson was just as lethal on the ground as it was through the air in its win over the Cowboys. In the shortened game, McPherson ran the ball 17 times for 142 yards and four different rushers found the end zone. Hoppes called his number four times for 47 yards and a score. Sophomore Aiden Hoover scored McPherson’s second touchdown of the second quarter on a two-yard burst. Senior running backs Matt Ramey and Jacob Fell totted the ball a combined 11 times for 93 yards and two scores.
Buckbee had one catch and that went for 45 yards and the first score of the night. Sophomore Gus Ruddle had a 44-yard scoring grab and junior Aaron Powell hauled in three passes for 27 yards and he had a nine-yard scoring catch to end the half and the game.
Even though giving up the big yardage plays hurt the Cowboys, they were clearly still in the game during the first quarter. After going three and out on their first offensive possession, junior Brandon Parker pounced on a McPherson fumble deep in Bullpup territory.
“We’ve been working on some things this week,” Abilene head coach Steve Simpson said. “We felt pretty good about what we were doing defensively on most of the plays early. Then we let them have a big one and then we put ourselves into a situation where we throw an interception, put the ball on the ground, we miss blocks, we are out of position defensively and we just get back to doing some of things that hurt us and against this team it really hurt us.
“Against any team, you are going to have your back to the wall with those mistakes. We just can’t continue to do that and expect to win.”
Cowboy quarterback Jackson Randles guided Abilene to the Bullpup 28-yard line where sophomore Kaleb Becker attempted his first field goal of the season. Becker’s kick sailed over the crossbar for a 43-yard score and Abilene was right in the game trailing just 3-7.
The Cowboy defense stiffened on the next Bullpup drive and forced a McPherson punt. Senior lineman Kade Funston and defensive back Keaton Hocker had multiple tackles in the first two quarters. Parker along with Karsen Loader assisted Funston on stops by the Cowboy defensive line. Senior back Chrisxavier Cease was able to get Hoppes out of bounds after a couple of long runs.
Abilene ran the ball for short yardage but their biggest play of the period came a fake punt return by Robbie Keener as he took the snap and ran for eight yards and a Cowboy first down.
Two plays later, McPherson intercepted a Cowboy pass and set themselves up for a drive beginning at mid-field. Four plays later Hoppes took off for a 40-yard scamper into the north end zone and the visitors took a 14-3 lead into the second quarter.
Lightning struck multiple times for McPherson as it scored on a 44-yard pass from Hoppes to Ruddle for a 20-3 lead. After a blocked Cowboy punt, Hoover rushed over from the two and the Bullpups were up 27-3. The Cowboys fumbled the kickoff and set the Bullpups up for another second quarter score on a 16-yard run by Ramey.
Later in the period, Mac scored its fourth time in the second period on a 14-yard run by Fell. The final score came with 37.3 seconds remaining in the half when Hoppes found Aaron Powell deep in the corner of the end zone from nine yards out.
Abilene must work on the issues that continue to plague them on defense and find some answers on offense as it prepares to face Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan next week at Augusta High School. This should complete the two-year agreement with the southeast Kansas high school. St. Mary’s Colgan is 1-3 on the season with a 34-7 win over Baxter Springs and losses to Columbus, Frontenac and Centralia.
“They are kind of a young team this year,” Simpson said of Pittsburg Colgan, a team the Cowboys defeated 22-20 last year at Circle High School. “They lost a lot of seniors last year. It ought to be a good game.”
McPherson 48, Abilene 3
McPherson 14 34 X X – 48
Abilene 3 0 X X – 3
Game called due to lightning.
M – Buckbee 45-yard pass from Rinker. Schrader kick.
A – Becker 43 –yard field goal.
M – Hoppes 40 yard run. Schrader kick.
M – Ruddle 64-yard pass from Hoppes. Kick failed.
M – Hoover two-yard run. Schrader kick.
M – Ramey 16-yard run. Schrader kick.
M – Fell 14 yard run. Schrader kick.
M – Powell nine-yard pass from Hoppes. Schrader kick.