By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio
MCPHERSON, Kan. – For the fourth time in five seasons, the McPherson Bullpup Football team has advanced to Sub-State, as the final four teams left in Class 4A, following a 49-28 win over the Towanda-Circle Thunderbirds on Friday.
For the two teams, this was the second meeting of the season after the previous meeting in Week 4, where the Bullpups won 35-15.
This was a different matchup from a month and a half ago, as both teams entered the contest winning rather handily in the week prior, as Circle found themselves in the Sectional for the first time since 1980, and McPherson returning to the Sectional after falling to Mulvane last season in the Regional Round.
On the first play from scrimmage, Circle would get on the board with an 80-yard touchdown pass. McPherson Head Coach Jace Pavlovich knew that his team would have an uphill battle to reclaim momentum. “They punched us in the mouth early,” and after mentioning the prior matchup, he said, “It’s hard to beat a good team twice.”
The Pups would answer by putting together an eight-play drive, that ended in a short touchdown run by Jaytin Gumm. Both teams would then alternate possessions with turnovers on back-to-back plays before the Thunderbirds would break a 59-yard touchdown run, taking a 13-7 lead.
Circle would find their largest lead of the game following a 25-yard touchdown run, and looked to add to a 20-7 lead before the half, but the turning point came on a 31-yard pick-six by Gavin Richardson.
After a quick possession by the Thunderbirds, the Pups would find themselves with an opportunity to take the lead before the half, but momentum nearly changed hands with an interception by Circle that was changed to incomplete. With a second life, the Pups were able to capitalize immediately on their next play, as Hunter Alvord found Cory Muehler open in the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
“That last three minutes of the first half was monumental for us, our guys made some big plays, and you know, we might have gotten lucky with that interception call,” said Pavlovich, adding “At this point everybody’s good, and the bottom line is you need some things to go your way, and it did tonight, and we took advantage of it, and our kids really played hard.”
The Pups would go into the locker room leading 21-20 and never looked back, scoring on their opening drive ending with a Dawson Gottwald 26-yard run.
On the next play for Circle, Teegan Haines would collect his first interception of the season for MHS, then the Pups would go right back to Gottwald, who would immediately score on a 14-yard run. The Pups would collect 42 consecutive points following a 24-yard rushing touchdown from Hunter Alvord, and a 44-yard touchdown run by Jaytin Gumm.
“This group of seniors, at times, they’re kind of a tough group.” said Pavlovich, “But, the fact, is they are a tough group, and nothing really rattles them or shakes them, and that’s the kind of thing you need this late in the playoffs, and I’m really proud of their perseverance, and I’m really proud of what they were able to do later on in the game.”
In conclusion, Coach Pavlovich said, “We’re just happy to be here. Happy to practice, and happy to get back to work together. I didn’t think I’d ever say that, but this group has just grown on me and they really are a bunch of good kids and they like to work.
Following the win, the Bullpups move to 10-1 for the fourth time since 2017, and they will travel to take on Wamego next Friday for Sub-State, with kickoff slated for 7 pm.
Below is the scoring summary, stats, and photos by Kendall Shaw:
Scoring 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Total
Circle 13 7 0 8 28
McPherson 7 14 21 7 49
1st Half Scoring Summary:
Circle-11:49 1st-Ty Smith 80 yard pass from Cooper Chadwell (Hannah Stipp PAT) McPherson-8:57 1st-Jaytin Gumm 2 yard ruin (Blaise Hoover PAT) Circle-:46 1st-Rose 59 yard run (PAT fail)
Circle-5:40 2nd-Chadwell 25 yard run (Stipp PAT)
McPherson 2:16 2nd-Gavin Richardson 31 yard INT (Hoover PAT) McPherson-:03 2nd-Cory Muehler 17 yard pass from Hunter Alvord (Hoover PAT)
2nd Half Scoring Summary
McPHerson-7:57 3rd-Dawson Gottwald 26 yard run (Hoover PAT) McPHerson-7:30 3rd-Gottwald 14 yard run (Hoover PAT)
McPherson-:56 3rd-Alvord 24 yard run (Hoover PAT
McPherson-10:16 4th-Gumm 44 yard run (Hoover PAT)
Circle-2:37 4th-Smith 4 yard run (Wellner 2 pt pass from Chadwell)
1st Downs 23 15
Rushing (Attempts-Yards) 48-272 34-231 Passing (Completions-Attempts-Int.) 13-23-1 6-23-3 Passing Yards 138 139
Fumbles/Lost 1-1 1-1
Punts-Average 3-35.0 4-29.7 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
RUSHING Name Attempts Yards TD
Hunter Alvord 18 116 1
Dawson Gottwald 17 104 2
Jaytin Gumm 5 49 2
Gavin Richardson 5 20 0
Chadwell 10 29 1 Rose 20 187 1
Smith 2 5 1
McCormack 2 10
PASSING Name Completions Attempts INT Yards TD
Hunter Alvord 13 23 1 138 1
Circle Cooper Chadwell 6 23 3 139 2
RECEIVING Name Receptions Yards TD
McPherson Blaise Hoover 5 56
Gunner Schumacker 2 38
Cory Muehler 3 21 1
Tucker Pelnar 2 13
Ty Smith 2 81 1
Rose 1 10
McCormick 1 20
Jefferies 2 28
Kendall Shaw’s Photos