Jeff Schaefer, senior wide receiver, takes on a McPherson player during action Saturday in Richard L. Jantz Stadium. The Builders fell to the Bulldogs 21-55. (Carly Budd/Collegian photographer)

Southwestern football dropped their third straight game Saturday afternoon against the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference leading McPherson Bulldogs 55-21. The loss occurred on the Builders second to last home game of the year and brought their record to 1-6 overall and 1-5 in conference play.

The bulldogs struck early as Shane Mascarenas, senior quarterback, found Joe Middleton, junior tight end, over the middle for a 17-yard touchdown pass with 10:34 left in the first quarter. The score capped off a 12-play, 71-yard drive that McPherson played into a strong wind that blew through Richard L. Jantz Stadium.

The Builders capitalized on a big play offensively to tie the game up at seven. Cory Holbert, junior running back, broke a 63-yard run with 6:48 remaining in the first quarter to swing the momentum back to Southwestern’s favor.

On the ensuing possession for McPherson, Josh Plummer, junior linebacker, intercepted a tipped pass thrown by Mascarenas. The Builder offense could not capitalize on the turnover, but the play kept the potent Bulldog offense off the field.

The Builder defense continued to keep McPherson at bay as they denied the Bulldogs a touchdown twice in the second quarter, both times holding them to a field goal after they had driven down inside Southwestern’s 10-yard line.

The tide turned with 5:11 left in the first half as Brady May, sophomore quarterback, was hit from behind while attempting to thrown the ball and fumbled. Darrick Johnson, junior linebacker, picked up the loose ball and returned it 46 yards to pay dirt to give McPherson a 20-7 lead.

The Bulldogs tacked on one more touchdown before halftime as Mascarenas hit Andy Skinner, junior wide receiver, for a 47-yard touchdown with 1:40 remaining in the half. The play gave the Bulldogs a 27-7 lead heading into the locker rooms.

The Builders came out after halftime and re-took the momentum, forcing McPherson into a three-and-out on their first possession and scoring on a 5-play, 58-yard drive to make the score 27-14. Holbert capped off the drive by punching the ball in from one-yard out.

Any hope of a Builder upset was quickly diminished as the Bulldogs scored 28 unanswered points to go up 55-14 in the fourth quarter.

May found Wayne Clutter, sophomore wide receiver, in the back of the endzone for a 19-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining on the clock, but the score was nothing more than a confidence booster.

The KCAC’s leading offense in McPherson gained 557 of total offense and 28 first downs against the Builder defense. Mascarenas had a big day, completing 24 of 36 passes for 330 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Middleton.

The Builder offense found some success running the ball as Holbert finished the game with 179 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns.

May, who started his first collegiate game, struggled in the first half, but finished with 13 completions out of 24 attempts for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception. May also had 13 rushes for 32 yards.

Zak Tazkargy, junior linebacker, led the Builder defense with 15 total tackles and two tackles for a loss.

The Builders hit the road for their next game at winless Bethel College. Kickoff starts at 1:30 Oct. 30 in Newman.

Clinton Dick is a sophomore majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.