Hand off

Abilene’s Jackson Randles (15) hands off to Chrisxavier Cease (26) in the first quarter of Abilene’s game at McPherson Friday night.

MCPHERSON – Meeting for the second time this season, the McPherson Bullpups put an end to the Abilene Cowboys 2019 football season Friday night in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

McPherson jumped out early with a defensive touchdown and then ran for three scores in the first quarter to dominate the Cowboys 63-7 and put an end to Abilene’s frustrating winless season.

“They have just so much talent and we are so depleted with injuries and lack of experience,” Abilene head coach Steve Simpson said. “We don’t have the experience we have had before or the speed, size or strength. We have just got to get better as a program. The kids have got to do it. They have to put the time in. I told them, I wish I could snap my finger and make it all better, but it doesn’t happen that fast. It happens 365 days over a course of two, three or four years. That’s the only way it is going to get fixed.”

The Cowboys playing without several injured and ill starters had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown with barely three-minutes off the opening game clock. Kansas State commit defensive end Cody Stufflebean got a hand on Kaleb Becker’s first kick of the night and junior Brycen Labertow scooped and ran it back for an early 7-0 McPherson lead following the first of seven extra point kicks by senior Drew Schrader.

McPherson scored on each of its four first-quarter possessions to go up 28-0 after the opening period.

Abilene struggled again in trying to run the ball against the Bullpups. In the first half, the Cowboys unofficially had 29 yards rushing on 20 carries. In the running clock second half, Abilene accounted for 35 yards on the ground on nine carries. Meanwhile, the Bullpups racked up 183 first-half yards on the ground.

For the game, the Cowboys got 107 yards of passing offense from senior quarterback Jackson Randles. Randles connected on four of 14 attempts including a late fourth quarter 68-yard toss to Becker to put Abilene on the scoreboard.

Playing with their second and third team reserves in the second half, the undefeated and number one seed Bullpups gained 70 yards on the ground that included two fourth quarter scoring drives.

McPherson shut the Cowboys down at midfield to begin the second quarter and then senior running back Matt Ramey scooted 43 yards on the first play from scrimmage to push the Bullpups to a 34-0 lead. Teammate Jakob Fell added two rushing scores to end the first half with McPherson leading 49-0 at the break.

Defense highlighted the third quarter as neither team scored during the shortened period.

Sophomore running back Anthony Brooks took over for McPherson and was able to have two rushing scores to make the score 63-0 before Randles connected with Becker for Abilene’s score.

Thirteen seniors were listed on the Cowboy roster on Friday night as they completed their final games for Abilene. Jayshaun Jones, Peter Garcia-Herbert, Jimmie Brooks, Jackson Randles, Landry Selby, Chuck Stucky, Chrisxavier Cease, Keaton Hocker, Zachary Juhl, Kade Funston, Spencer Riffel, Luke Hagar and Jacob Bender saw their high school football eligibility end on Friday.

Speaking of his seniors and the entire team, Simpson said, “That’s a great group of kids and I hope they all learned something this year. It’s a tough way to go out but they can be strong. I told them wins and losses don’t mean as much as looking around at the faces of each other. That’s what matters. That’s the most important thing to remember.”

McPherson will host Goddard this Friday for the regional round of Class 4A action.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

Scoring Summary:

McPherson 63, Abilene 7

Abilene 0 0 0 7 – 7

McPherson 28 21 0 14 – 63

First Quarter

McPherson – Brycen Labertew 10 return of blocked punt. Drew Schrader kick.

McPherson – Jakob Fell 4 run. Schrader kick.

McPherson – Kaleb Hoppes 1 run. Schrader kick.

McPherson – Aiden Hoover 27 pass from Hoppes. Schrader kick.

Second Quarter

McPherson – Matt Ramey 43 run. Schrader kick.

McPherson – Jonah Clarke 3 run. Schrader kick.

McPherson – Fell 14 run. Schrader kick

Fourth Quarter

McPherson – Anthony Brooks 13 run. Jayden Dukes kick.

McPherson – Brooks 18 run. Dukes kick.

Abilene – Kaleb Becker 68 pass from Jackson Randles. Becker kick.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

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