Silver Lake’s timely touchdowns doom McLouth
McLouth had more rushing yards than Silver Lake.
The Bulldogs also passed for more yards than the Eagles.
But the only thing that mattered Saturday was the final score.
Silver Lake 21, McLouth 8.
In a battle of unbeatens -- tradition-rich Silver Lake and Cinderella McLouth -- the Eagles held on for the victory against the visiting Bulldogs. Both teams entered the game at 10-0.
Silver Lake held a 14-0 halftime lead. The Eagles' first score came with 1:22 left in the first quarter on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Dale Kruger to Garrett Cummings.
The Eagles scored again late in the second quarter with a Kyle Steel 38-yard run. That score came with just 2:30 left in the half.
Silver Lake scored a final time with two minutes left in the fourth quarter on a Keaton Taylor 1-yard run. McLouth answered with a 14-yard pass from Jimmy Steffey to Kevin Stewart with 37 seconds left in the game, but it was too late for the Bulldogs.
"I thought our kids played extremely well and hard," MHS coach Harry Hester said. "We knew going in that we couldn't make mistakes and we had a couple mistakes that cost us touchdowns. And that's what happens when you play another good team.
"They fought hard for four quarters and they went down swinging. They played with class to the end and gave it a shot."
Hester said the Bulldogs gave up their first touchdown because of miscommunication in the secondary on pass coverage. On another touchdown, the Bulldogs misread an option play.
"We didn't see the ball pitched," Hester said. "They were little mistakes, and Silver Lake turned those into touchdowns."
McLouth out-rushed Silver Lake, 219-189. The Bulldogs had 124 passing yards to Silver Lake's 119.
But McLouth had two turnovers to Silver Lake's one.
And, MHS couldn't capitalize on several drives that moved inside the Silver Lake 30. Without a strong kicking game, the Bulldogs weren't able to turn any of those drives into points via field goals, either.
"I think we were down inside the 30 five or six times and we only get one touchdown," Hester said. "We were down inside the 10 and we don't score."
Silver Lake had a pretty good defense, Hester said, but the Bulldogs needed to take advantage of opportunities.
"I think if we could have gotten one of those scores in the third quarter, we could have run more in the fourth," Hester said.
Instead, the game plan went with more passing, which took the Bulldogs away from their original strategy.
"We thought, needing two scores, we needed to pass the ball, and that's what we did," Hester said.
McLouth did have some success with the run. Steffey had 112 rushing yards at quarterback, while Stewart had 97 yards as a running back. In the air, Joel Gill led the team in receiving with 81 yards.
A large crowd attended the game in Silver Lake. Hester said people from Cherryvale, where he coached before coming to McLouth, attended the game, as did several fans from other Delaware Valley League schools.
Hester said he hoped McLouth, this year's DVL champs, represented the league well in the playoffs.
"I think we did that to an extent," Hester said. "I won't say we're better than them or they're better than us.
"But we couldn't get the ball into the end zone and that made the difference."
The game marked the final game for 12 seniors who were on a team that went 0-9 when they were freshmen. Just three seasons later, the Bulldogs had transformed into a formidable foe.
"It's rough because, for these seniors, I think I want it for them and not me," Hester said. "I know I'll have another shot and I know they might not have that."
Some of those seniors might have another shot at the postseason if they decide to play in college. But of the 12 seniors --oel Gill, Jason McGhee, Cody Cook, Kyle Sparks, Tyler Wise, Jonah Wise, Boone Sorrell, Ryan Perry, Blake Kingsolver, Josh Hobbs, Stewart and Steffey -- there were some who played their last game of competitive football.
"Saturday's loss is going to hurt for a long time, but these kids had a great season," Hester said. "And it's all on them. I give them all the credit in the world."
The Bulldogs will have several plaques to add to the MHS trophy cases after this season. With an 18-10 victory against Pleasant Ridge late in the regular season, the Bulldogs won the DVL title for the first time since 1994. MHS also won its first district title since 1996, marked its first playoff win in 25 years and went undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 1953.
McLouth 30, Sabetha 7
Although McLouth was on the road for the regional game against Silver Lake, the Bulldogs were at home in the first round of playoffs Nov. 1.
Sabetha led 7-0 in the first quarter, but McLouth responded with 30 unanswered points for the victory.
Stewart led McLouth's rushing attack with 256 yards on 32 carries.
McLouth had 399 yards of total offense compared to Sabetha's 200 yards.
McLouth High School had 342 yards on the ground and 57 in the air as all four of McLouth's touchdowns came on the ground as Stewart scored three and Steffey had one.