Mulvane and Great Bend punched and counterpunched through the better part of Friday night's football game, but host Wildcats were able to land a final, decisive blow.
Junior quarterback Gus Strunk found senior A.J. May in the left corner of the end zone for a 28-yard scoring pass with 47 seconds to play, lifting Mulvane to a 34-28 victory over Great Bend.
Strunk said that he knew he could count on May bringing down the ball.
“He’s a senior, and he wants to go out strong,” Strunk said. “A.J.’s been a good receiver; I knew he could make a big play.”
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After Mulvane recovered a fumble by Panther running back Jordan Bayse at the Wildcats’ 42 with 3:39 to play, Mulvane needed just two plays to reach the end zone.
Strunk lofted the ball toward the left corner to May, who had gotten behind the Great Bend defender, and May leaped to haul it in.
May said he knew he just had to concentrate on the pass.
“I’ve got to catch this; we’ve got to win the game,” he said.
Mulvane senior running back Dylan Hagerman socred three touchdowns — two on runs of 61 and 57 yards.
But it seemed that each time Hagerman struck for Mulvane, Great Bend countered with a score from junior quarterback Jeff Hildebrand. He scored on runs of 5, 1 and 1 yards to pace the Panthers, each time tying the score after a Mulvane touchdown.
Even with the late touchdown, Mulvane still had to sweat out the remaining time.
Hildebrand gave the Panthers some hope as he hit Bayse from the Great Bend 5. Great Bend then tried a hookand-lateral, getting inside the Mulvane 40 before the Wildcats made the tackle, ending the game.
Great Bend had some success stopping Hagerman in the second half. Hagerman finished with 157 yards. When he broke through the hole, he was electrifying, outrunning the Panther defenders.
Mulvane head coach Dave Fennewald said that Hagerman came back for his senior season as a more physical player.
“Dylan started really coming on last year, but this year he has gained 20 pounds,” Fennewald said. “He really looked good in our team camp and opening workouts because he has dedicated himself to getting better.”