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Cougars Succumb to 2nd Half Barrage from McPherson

Ethan DentonSeptember 5, 2020

The Salina South football team was hoping to come to McPherson and avenge a season-opening defeat last season to the Bullpups. For one half, the Cougars looked plenty capable of getting the job done. But a horrific start to the second half did the visitors in, as McPherson opened up a 33-point 4th quarter lead en route to a 45-25 victory.

The turnover battle was a major factor as South gave the ball away three times while the Bulldogs were turnover-free. The first giveaway came just two plays into the contest. A botched snap and hand-off from quarterback Weston Fries was recovered by McPherson, and with 7:57 remaining in the opening quarter, Brycen Labertew dove to paydirt from four yards out and 7-0 Bullpup lead.

Just 49 seconds later on 3rd and 12, the Cougars struck back as Fries hit Colin Schreiber on a fly route for an 86-yard touchdown. The PAT failed and McPherson led 7-6. Missed extra points were an issue all around as both teams combined to miss seven of them.

Each side scored once in the second quarter. Third-string Bullpup running back Jaytin Gumm broke loose for a 44-yard TD with 4:36 to go before halftime, and South then mounted a drive to end the first half as running back Brandt Cox scored from two yards out with 42 seconds left until the break where McPherson would go in with a 13-12 lead.

Things would go terribly wrong for South after that, as McPherson benefited from two face-mask penalties to set up a short TD run for Labertew and a 20-12 lead.

The Cougars muffed the ensuing short kickoff, McPherson would recover and Labertew punched it in again from a yard out. With 8:31 left in the third, South trailed 27-12.

After a Cougar three-and-out, McPherson once again punished the South defense, particularly on the ground as Gumm scampered in for a 13-yard touchdown to put the Bullpups up 33-12 heading to the fourth.

The hosts added two more scores in the final period, this time through the air as quarterback Dylan Rinker threw a TD to Gus Ruddle and one to Trey Buckbee.

South certainly did not throw in the towel however as Fries led the Cougars with an impressive drive leading to Cox’s second touchdown of the night. After a stop, Fries found Garrett Aills for a 36-yard score to wrap things up.

McPherson was balanced, gaining 273 rushing yards and 158 through the air. The Cougars got a solid night from Cox, 20 rushes for 74 yards and a pair of scores. Fries was solid in his debut with 283 yards passing on 18 completions. Schreiber was a favorite target of his, using his height and leaping ability to go get balls among defenders playing tight coverage.

The Cougars will host Maize South next week.

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2021. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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