At some point, all these moral football victories are going to become actual victories for the McPherson College Bulldogs.
Not this year, but maybe next year.
The Bulldogs certainly lead the league in moral victories, the latest being a 46-29 loss to KCAC co-leader Tabor in which the game was tied at 29-all after three quarters before Mac’s injury-depleted defense finally wore out in the fourth quarter when the Bluejays outscored the Bulldogs, 17-0.
“If I know anything about this football team this year, especially over the last couple of years, I think we’ve recruited the right kind of young men who are going to work and work all week,” Mac coach Paul Mierkiewicz said. “They’re going to give you a maximum effort and they did. Talent-wise some places they’re just a little bit better than we are and we kind of wore down in those places.”
The Bulldogs were missing injured starting linemen Charles Tisby and Joey Hale and the Bluejays took advantage. They rushed for 288 yards — including 166 by chunk of mercury Drevion Cooper — and quarterback Curry Parham noticed his receivers had a distinct height advantage to throw for 370 yards and four touchdowns. Acrobatic receiver Zach Johnson probably locked up KCAC Player of the Week honors with 8 catches for 230 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bulldogs showed a lot of grit. They opened the game with a 23-yard TD pass from Jake Tiernan to Jackson Goodmiller for a 7-0 lead. After Tabor answered, Mac had a chance to take a 10-7 lead, but a 21-yard field goal was missed after a high snap threw off the timing.
Tabor scored 16 straight points for a 16-7 lead, but Mac’s Tyrone Campbell, who had a big day with 116 yards on 15 carries, scored from 5 yards to make it 16-14.
Tabor scored back-to-back touchdowns for a 29-14 lead, but just before the half Mac’s Ashton Serpas came up with a pick-6 and with Tiernan’s 2-point conversion, it was a one-score game at the half, 29-22.
The Bulldogs were the first team to score in the second half as Tiernan — now entrenched as the starter as Ed Crouch is no longer with the team — hit Desmond Anderson on a spectacular 36-yard pass to knot the game up at 29-all.
But Tabor’s relentless offensive machine pounded away in the final quarter for two touchdowns and field goal, while the Mac offense was under siege when it had to throw on every down.
“We knew their defensive line is as good as you’re going to find in our league, maybe in the country,” Mierkiewicz said. “They gave us fits. Give our guys credit, their effort was excellent.”
Tabor wound up running 80 players for a whopping 658 yards while the Bulldogs had 290 on 53 snaps. The Mac defense has now been on the field for 177 plays the last two weeks as they have faced two high-powered attacks.
Goodmiller had 5 catches for 40 yards and a score, while Anderson had 4 for 57 and Brandt Wolters 4 for 48. To show how long the defense was on the field, four Bulldogs had double-digits in tackles, led by Thomas Lanktree with 12. Serpas, Oluwaseyi Johnson and Chandler Tisby all had 10. Serpas also had a blocked kick to go with his pick-6.
Mac, now 3-5 in the KCAC and 3-6 overall, hosts KCAC co-leader Sterling on Saturday for Senior Day. The Warriors will advance to the playoffs with a win, so the Bulldogs have a chance to play spoiler.