Sun, Sep. 9, 2012
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LINDSBORG -- Just a year removed from the Kansas Conference basement, McPherson showed that it might be on the way back this year as Bulldogs' defense hung a goose egg on Bethany in a 14-0 victory in the KCAC opener for both clubs.
The result squares both teams records at 1-1 overall, but Mac improves to 1-0 in the KCAC while the Swedes drop to 0-1.
From the outset in this defensive struggle, McPherson contained the Bethany aerial game, picking off three Darby House passes and getting a fumble on a sack.
In the end, the Swedes mustered only 198 total yards, 135 in the air and 63 on the ground including 35 in losses.
"They're inexperienced on the o-line," McPherson coach said Pete Sterbick. "They're good solid players, and I know they are well coached. But we felt like with the guys we have and how hard we can play on the d-line and at linebacker that we thought we could give them some problems.
"I feel strong about our secondary. The corners (Allen Colbert and DeMarcus Trotter) played lights out. We just fly to the ball. We've got guys that can hit. We have a goal to be the most physical team in the KCAC, and that starts with defense."
Amazingly enough, most of the havoc raised by the Bulldogs' defense came with only a three-man rush.
"They were exactly what I thought they would be," Bethany coach Jamie Cruce said. "They did a good job bringing some athletes that were tough for us to match up against. We didn't perform well on offense. We turned the ball over too much, and a lot of it was some of our guys trying to make plays.
"But McPherson is a good team. They're probably as good a team as any in the conference."
Cruce wouldn't make excuses, but admitted his offensive line was thin in experience and suffered a serious blow on the second play of the second half when Caton Scarry, 6-foot-2, 305 guard, went down with an ankle injury and wasn't able to return.
That caused a shuffle on the line of scrimmage that McPherson was able to exploit.
While most plaudits went to the defense, Sterbick was happy with the play of his quarterback Jake Snodgrass and the way he managed the game.
Snodgrass rushed for 59 yards on 10 carries and completed 18 of 27 passes for 160 more. Most importantly, he didn't take a sack.
Bethany had the first serious threat to score as the Swedes moved to the Bulldogs 24-yard line late in the opening period, only to see House picked off for the first time on a deep route at the 5 by Colbert.
As the first half was winding down, Trotter's 25-yard punt return put McPherson in business at the Swedes' 47. With Snodgrass hitting tight end Paul Rotering for 18 yards the key play, the Bulldogs hit scored with just 13.2 seconds showing when Havelock Pomele, 5-8, 255-pound running back, dove over the line from 1 yard out. Cord Cunningham's kick made it 7-0 at the break.
Trotter's 28-yard punt return with 2:06 left in the third quarter gave McPherson the ball at midfield. Facing a fourth and 1 at the 41, Sterbick rolled the dice and called for Snodgrass to look for Rotering over the middle.
The big tight end made the catch for 29 yards to the 12. On first down, Pomele powered over for another TD and a 14-0 lead just seven seconds into the final quarter.
While the Swede offense had sputtered throughout most of the contest, a pair of personal fouls moved Bethany to a first and 10 at the McPherson 15.
Two plays later, House lost the ball and 21 yards. Tyler Bruton recovered for Mac at the Bethany 39.
The Swedes will be in conference action next Saturday against Bethel in North Newton.