On a cold, crisp night, Arkansas City High School came down to McPherson Stadium and did something no other team has done all year. The Bulldogs were able to move the ball and score on the first drive, and they also scored 28 points on the McPherson High School football team, which is a season-high points the Bullpups have giving up.
However, in the end, the Bullpups were victorious with 62-28 final score. The Bullpups are now the Class 4A Sectional Champs, 11-0 for the first time in school history, and will advance to the Class 4A semifinals next Friday.
The Bullpups gave everyone a scare at the beginning of the first quarter after struggling against Bulldogs' mobile quarterback Cevin Clark. The Bulldogs had the Bullpups on the ropes after trailing 7-0 after putting together a 69-yard drive. McPherson was trailing for the first time this season.
"I couldn't scripted it any better to be honest with you. We needed to play from behind," Bullpups' head coach Pavlovich said. "It was good to see our kids responded, and how they reacted on the sidelines. Nobody was down, nobody was shocked, and nobody was pressing. I realized it was early for a group of guys who never been in a situation like that, and they showed some maturity and handled it well."
After the Bullpups settled down and regrouped, Clark was in the dog house as the defensive front four was able to contain him in the pocket for the rest of the night. He would finish the game throwing for 233 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
"It was one of those things where if you keep him in the pocket, then he's not that dangerous," Pavlovich said. "Our guys lost contain early in that first drive, and Coach (Chet) Harlin got them coached up, and we maintained an edge on him, and our guys did a good job on the interior, really collapsing on the pocket as well."
As for the Bullpups' offense, Jace Kinnamon continued to shatter rushing records. Prior to Friday's game, Kinnamon was 149 yards away from breaking Dwayne Chandler's 30-year old career rushing record, which is 3,182 yards. After rushing for 227 yards on 24 carries, Kinnamon has surpassed Duncan's record as he now has 3,260 rushing yards in his career. The senior back turned into "The Bus" once he drove down defenders in 19-degree weather and scored six times for the Bullpups. Five of them were on the ground.
"He came to play. No question about it. Our offensive line did a great job paving the way," Pavlovich said. "And Jace is Jace. He's going to make people pay down the field if he gets one-on-one into space, he's athletic enough to make a move if he's one-on-one in the hole. He's tough, strong and big enough to run over kids."
Quarterback Kyler Hoppes had his fair share of record-breaking as he became McPherson's all-time passing touchdown leader after throwing four. Three of them he connected to his main target Gabe Hoover. His last touchdown pass was to Kinnamon off a wheel route late in the third quarter. It was something the Bullpups have been working on for quite some time.
As the Bullpups continues to chase history in making it to the finals for the first time, the real challenge begins next Friday when Goddard High School (9-2) comes to town. The semifinals will kickoff at 7 p.m. at McPherson Stadium.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twit