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Bulldogs Erase 11 Point Deficit to Take Down Sterling

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STERLING, Kan. (MacBulldogs.com) — Trailing 31-20 with 11:54 remaining in the game, the McPherson College Bulldogs mounted a comeback Saturday night (Sep. 2) that included a pair of scoring drives and two interceptions by Nehemiah Figueroa on back-to-back possessions to come out on top 34-31 in Sterling Kan.

BOX SCORE

The win marks the program’s first 2-0 start since the 2010 season, and the fourth straight win over Sterling dating back to 2020.

“It was a hard-fought game,” head coach Jeremiah Fiscus said. “Definitely a four-quarter game and in the end, it was a team win. Had a lot of self-inflicted wounds that we had to overcome early, but late in the game when it was time to turn it on and make plays, they did that.”

Three straight runs by Hayden Fry for 23 yards set the Bulldogs up in Sterling territory, then Tristan Szabo pulled them within 31-27, finding Traven Lewis-Johnson for a 38-yard touchdown.

The Bulldogs’ defense held Sterling out of the end zone on the next drive, overcoming a pass-interference penalty on 3rd and 11 to force a punt. Then, MC drove 75 yards in nine plays, capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass from Szabo to Alex Hill to take the lead with 3:41 remaining.

Figueroa’s first interception came on the next Sterling possession, as the Bulldogs defensive line put pressure on Rocklin Baptista.

“The two fourth quarter interceptions by Nehemiah Figueroa were huge, but it wasn’t just the interceptions but the pressure that got to the quarterback,” Fiscus said.” It was awesome to see the defense not only get off the field when we needed them to, but take the ball away.”

The Warriors showed life on their final drive, moving the chains a couple of times, including a circus catch by Trevor Carr but Figueroa jumped a seam route plays later to ice the game with his second interception.

“Really proud of the fight and the togetherness that we had at the end,” Fiscus said. “When they started utilizing our three building blocks, accountability, toughness and togetherness, allowed us to go win that game in a clutch situation.”

Szabo threw for 231 yards and three scores, while rushing for 28 yards and a touchdown, and also catching a pass for an eight-yard score. Brysen Kerby finished with 53 yards on 12 carries and six catches for 56 yards, while Fry added 47 yards on the ground.

Defensively, Marquis Willoughby led the way with 10 tackles, including four tackle-for-loss, while Jaquez Wilson added five tackles. Figueroa also forced one fumble and recovered in addition to the first two-interception game of his career.

For Sterling (0-2), Baptista finished with 192 yards and three touchdowns as well as a pair of interceptions. Kendrick Bell rushed for a team-high 36 yards and a touchdown on seven carries

It looked like the Bulldogs were going to run away with this one early, with Szabo finding Harley Blaske in the end zone for six before catching a touchdown pass from Tyson Bochert and using his legs to find paydirt.

But from there, the Warriors took control, scoring 31 unanswered points behind three touchdown passes by Baptista.

“It’s unfortunate that we allowed that game to get to that point, and this should be an eye-opener for a lot of guys to show them that we have to prepare every week in this league.”

The Bulldogs return to Paul Family Field at McPherson Stadium next Saturday (Sep. 9) to take on the University of Saint Mary Spires. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

“We will always be happy with a win, but we will learn and grow from this victory and start our prep for Saint Mary.”

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