McPHERSON – All night long Friday, Maize South had managed to keep McPherson out of the end zone and took a 6-0 lead into the fourth quarter.
But with 6:54 left in the game, McPherson quarterback Casen Hoover scored on a 6-yard run for a 6-6 tie. Just as had Maize South had done, McPherson’s conversion kick was no good.
The Mavericks were undeterred, driving 63 yards in 12 plays – all but one on the ground – capped by quarterback Ethan Richardson’s 2-yard run with 2:36 to play. He then ran in the two-point conversion, and Maize South held on for a 14-6 victory.
Richardson said the Mavericks were determined not to lose.
“We just came together as a team,” he said. “We said we were going to score, and we just believed in that. Our offensive line did a phenomenal job, created some opportunities for us.”
He said he was confident in the two-point attempt.
“That formation we were in, we knew we were scoring,” Richardson said.
Maize South coach Brent Pfeifer said his team needed a test like this.
“We’ve got some senior kids here that just believe in each other,” he said. “It’s a team that believes when our back’s against the wall, we’re not going to give up on it. That’s what we needed.
“We needed someone to smack us in the face a little bit. McPherson’s got a great club, a physical club, and they hit us hard.
“It was good to see that when adversity hit the wall, that we could step up to the challenge. These guys (McPherson) gave us (the test) we needed. Once we get going, we’re hard to stop.”
It was a bittersweet loss for McPherson (0-2), which started its season facing powerful teams in Buhler and Maize South. The Bullpups had the edge statistically with 258 yards of total offense in a game that started 90 minutes late because of lightning delays.
“Our kids fought like crazy all night long, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Bullpups coach Jace Pavlovich said. “We just needed to generate a few more big plays on offense.”
With a soggy artificial turf field and 26-mph north winds, making key stops became more crucial.
Maize South (2-0) managed to get its opening score when senior Jacob Perez took a handoff and weaved and darted his way 48 yards into the end zone on the Mavericks’ second possession. He finished with a game-high 115 rushing yards on 18 carries. His scoring run provided more than half of Maize South’s 81 yards total offense in the first half.
But equally strong was McPherson junior Tyson Stites, who carried 22 times for 100 yards.
Both teams couldn’t sustain drives all the way down to the final 6½ minutes of the game.
The opening kickoff was delayed 90 minutes by thunderstorms, but the teams were able to get to halftime even though a couple of lightning flashes were spotted late in the first half. In fact, another half-hour delay was called at the four-minute mark of halftime.
McPherson’s best first-half drive began at the end of the first quarter when the Bullpups started at the Maize South 40 and drove all the way to the Maize South 2. But Maize South’s defense stiffened, and Stites was stopped at the 1 on fourth down.
On McPherson’s game-opening possession, it drove to the Mavericks’ 10, where Hoover was intercepted by junior Tyler White.
Maize South 6 0 0 8 — 14
McPherson 0 0 0 6 — 6
MS – Perez 48 run (kick failed)
McP – Hoover 6 run (kick failed)
MS – Richardson 2 run (Richardson run)
Rushing: Maize South: Perez 18-115, Parke 2-22, Richardson 17-16, Domnick 3-3, Bliss 2-(-8). McPherson: Stites 23-100, Hoover 12-72, Reifschneider 2-6, Powell 5-0.
Passing: Maize South: Richardson 7-15-0-57. McPherson: Hoover 7-22-1-80.
Receiving: Maize South: Wiens 3-16, Seiler 2-44, Perez 2-(-3). McPherson: Reed 2-30, Diggs 2-18, Reifschneider 1-27, Saverino 1-6, Stites 1-(-1).